Amar Salhi is still amazed at how his scruffy bar north of Paris sparked an election scandal after it featured on national television in December during a report about Islam and women.

In footage shot with hidden cameras and broadcast during prime-time by state media giant France 2, two women activists were seen facing a hostile welcome as they tried to go for a drink in the Jockey Club.

"There's no mixing in this bar," one client was heard saying.

"You're not in Paris here... it's a different mentality, it's like the village back home (in north Africa)," said another.

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