In his first public statement about France's debate over the burkini, the leader of the country's Jewish communities condemned a politician's likening of the ban on the Muslim garb to persecutions against French Jews.

Francis Kalifat, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, commented on the issue in a statement published on CRIF's website Friday, two weeks after the first of some 30 French municipalities passed bans on wearing the full-body swimsuit. Also Friday, a French high court ruled these bans were illegal.

The president of the CRIF, which has remained uncharacteristically silent on the divisive issue, condemned in his statement tweets by Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the Left Party, who has said that in France, "Jews were persecuted, then Protestants, and today Muslims."

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