A hot summer is the policeman's foe, say law officers patrolling troubled housing estates full of angry young men of immigrant origin.

And as temperatures in France reached record, sustained highs of more than 30°C even in the north and west, the constant tensions between authority and the country's large Muslim population boiled over into three nights of rioting.

In Trappes, a town in Paris's western suburbs where the violence erupted, the immediate issue was the manner in which police carried out an identity check on a young mother of French West Indian background wearing a niqab in defiance of a 2010 law that bans face-covering headgear in public. Scores of young people took to the streets as Ramadan fasting was broken by iftar; cars were set alight, police were bombarded with makeshift projectiles and several arrests were made.

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