Paris riots sparked by police identity check on veiled Muslim woman

Two nights of rioting in the Paris suburb of Trappes have left dozens of cars destroyed, at least 10 arrests and a 14-year-old injured, after police carried out an identity check on a Muslim woman in a full-face veil.

On Friday night, about 250 people hurling stones and paving slabs clashed with police firing teargas, while 400 others gathered to protest across the high-rise suburb west of Paris, torching cars, bins and bus-shelters.

On Saturday, a further 20 cars were burned and four people arrested after 50 people were involved in a standoff with police as the violence spread to towns in the surrounding area.

The Versailles state prosecutor said the trouble started on Thursday after police stopped and carried out an identity check on a woman in a niqab, or full-face veil.

The prosecutor said the woman's husband had assaulted one of the officers and tried to strangle him so was immediately taken into custody at the police station. Muslim full-face veils have been banned from all public places in France after a controversial law introduced by President Sarkozy in 2011. The Collective Against Islamophobia in France released a statement complaining of "heavy-handedness" and "provocation" by the police during the identity check.

The day after the arrest, 30 people gathered outside the police station demanding the man be released. When the police refused, others joined them and projectiles were thrown. Riot police were called in as backup and police fired teargas. The local prefect's office said the police station was under siege for over an hour.

"[The police] didn't want to listen and it got out of control," one local man, who gave his name as Sofiane, told iTele. "Trappes is a big family. When you attack us we're going to respond."

A police inquiry has been opened into how a 14-year-old suffered an eye injury from a projectile during the violence, which witnesses said could have been from a police flash-ball gun.

Trappes, a poor suburban town outside Paris with a large immigrant population, is well-known for producing some of France's biggest comedy stars, including the comedian Jamel Debbouze, and the actor Omar Sy as well as the footballer Nicolas Anelka.

The right was quick to accuse the Socialist government of not being tough enough on law and order, while the left accused rightwing politicians of trying to exploit events to stigmatise people in the poor suburbs.

In 2005, France declared a state of emergency after the worst urban rioting for 40 years was sparked by the death of two boys who had been running from police in a suburb north-east of Paris. Since then, tension between police and young residents have remained high on suburban estates.