A ban on hookah pipes in French towns is fuelling racial tensions, with opponents claiming that the move is an attack on ethnic minority customs.

At least four mayors in southeast France and one in the Paris region have made it illegal to smoke them in public after complaints from locals.

Critics say that the ban illustrates how France is turning against immigrant communities from Muslim countries in response to Islamist terrorism.

Shisha, the flavoured tobacco used in hookah pipes, which is traditionally associated with the Persian Gulf and north Africa, has become popular in Europe, notably France, in recent years.

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