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HRW Calls French Burqa Ban Discriminatory

Human Rights Watch says a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights approving France's ban on full-face veils is "discriminatory" and breaches the rights of Muslim women.

The court on July 1 upheld France's 2010 blanket ban on wearing the niqab and burqa in public, saying it did not violate religious freedom and aimed to ensure respect for basic democratic values.

Human Rights Watch, however, described the court's decision as "disappointing."

In a statement released on July 3, the U.S.-based rights watchdog said the ban had "a disproportionate impact on Muslim women" and breached the rights to freedom of religion and expression of those who choose to wear full-face veils.

France has the largest Muslim minority in Europe, estimated at 5 million.