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US Advises its Citizens to Comply with French Laws on Burkini


FILE - A Muslim woman wears a burkini, a swimsuit that leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed, on a beach in Marseille, France, Aug. 17, 2016.

FILE - A Muslim woman wears a burkini, a swimsuit that leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed, on a beach in Marseille, France, Aug. 17, 2016.

The U.S. State Department has advised travelers to France to comply with local laws after several beach towns imposed a ban on swimwear that includes Muslim veils.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, spokeswoman Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau said that "if they violate local laws, even unknowingly, they may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned."

The U.S. has expressed concerns about measures taken in France regarding Muslim attire, in particular its ban on full-face veils in public spaces.

Recently, dozens of French resorts have banned beachwear that "conspicuously" shows a person's religion such as a "burkini" — a full-body swimsuit for Muslim women.

Speaking after a meeting with the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned Wednesday against stigmatizing Muslims.

"The implementation of secularism and the possibility of making these bans must not lead to stigmatization or antagonism between French people," Cazeneuve said.

CFCM president Anouar Kbibech requested an urgent meeting with Cazeneuve after pictures that showed French police surrounding a veiled woman on a beach in Nice went viral on social media.

"This has created a lot of emotion, a lot of concern among Muslims in France and beyond,” Kbibech said.

The images were interpreted as showing the woman being pressured by police into removing the garment.

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