Anti-discrimination organisations have expressed shock after the European court of human rights ruled that France has the right to ban women from wearing the full-face veil in public in the interests of everyone "living together".

The judges ruled that the contested ban affected a group of Muslim women but did not take away their freedom to wear in public clothing or items that did not hide their faces.

"The question of accepting or not that the full veil can be worn in public is a society's choice," they ruled on Tuesday.

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