Excerpt:

The French government has defended municipal bans on body-covering Muslim burkini swimwear but called on mayors to try and cool tensions between communities.

Three Mediterranean towns - Cannes, Villeneuve-Loubet and Sisco on the island of Corsica - have banned the burkini, and Le Touquet on the Atlantic coast is planning to do the same.

The mainly conservative mayors who have imposed the ban say the garment, which leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed, defies French laws on secularism.

The burkini debate is particularly sensitive in France given deadly attacks by Islamist militants, including bombings and shootings in Paris which killed 130 people last November, which have raised tensions between communities and made people wary of public places.


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