A French mayor's open letter, calling for a general headscarf ban for sales assistants, to fashion chain Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has hit the headlines in France, reviving the debate on religious freedom and secularism.

Mandelieu-la-Napoule Mayor Henri Leroy claimed that customers of the local H&M store in the southern French commune, which is located southwest of Cannes, were "disturbed" by headscarf wearing sales assistants.

The 72-year-old conservative politician therefore called on H&M store managers to respect the wishes of "other employees and customers," saying that his request could be based on national labor law as well as EU jurisdiction.

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