Corsica parents 'block women in headscarves'

Women hold signs reading "Is it not a provocation, just my freedom of conscience" during a "headscarf march" in Avignon Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The headscarf is banned in state schools along with other religious symbols, although some French Muslim women such as these protesters in Avignon say wearing it should be a matter of "freedom of conscience"

Five women wearing the Islamic headscarf have been prevented from entering a nursery school in Corsica by other parents, local media report.

Police intervened to calm the incident in Bonifacio, local media reported.

Staff and pupils at French schools are banned from wearing religious symbols - but parents are not.

Tensions between Muslims and other locals have been simmering in southern France, particularly after a jihadist in a lorry murdered 86 people in Nice.

Monday's incident in Bonifacio took place as children returned to school after the summer holiday.

The parents who blocked the women said they were unhappy because their children were reprimanded if staff saw their Christian crosses.

Tensions have been simmering in southern France and Corsica, especially following the jihadist massacre of 86 people by a lorry driver on the seafront at Nice on 14 July.

Up to 30 towns and villages imposed bans on women wearing full-body swimsuits known as "burkinis" but the top French court has since said the action breaches basic freedoms.

Last month two villagers and three men of North African origin were hurt in a brawl on a beach in the Corsican village of Sisco. The local prosecutor said the three North African men, from a nearby town , had wanted the beach for themselves.

The Islamic veil across Europe

Why do some people find the burkini offensive?

France, where the separation of state and religion is enshrined in law, introduced in 2004 a series of bans on overt religious symbols in various public and state-run places.

In May a top EU court adviser said EU employers may be able to ban Muslim staff from wearing headscarves to work as long as it was part of a general prohibition on all religious symbols.

The full-face Islamic veil, or niqab, has been banned in public places in France since 2011.

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