A woman challenging France’s burka ban stayed away from court today because she did not want ‘to be perceived as a symbol of supposed rampant Islamisation’.

Cassandra Belin, 20, sparked a near riot in the Paris suburb of Trappes in July after being stopped by police for wearing a full face veil.

She admits telling the officers to ‘shut up’ but denies saying ‘Allah will exterminate you’.

Now her lawyers have launched a constitutional challenge to the ban on Muslim veils, arguing that the controversial law of 2011 which made them illegal should be scrapped.

Belin’s husband, Michael Khiri, was arrested for insulting one of the officers who stopped his wife in Trappes during the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan.

This led to a large crowd gathering on the couple’s housing estate, where hundreds of mainly Muslim immigrants live.

Soon bus stops and other public property was being destroyed, as running battles took place between youths and the police.

Belin, a Muslim convert who has worn a veil all her adult life, was outraged when her husband received a three-month suspended prison sentence.

In October, Belin herself went on trial for defying the ban on Islamic veils and for insulting a police officer.

Now her lawyer has launched a constitutional challenge to the entire burka ban at the criminal court in Versailles, west of Paris.

Philippe Bataille told the court that the ban was discriminatory, unconstitutional, and against the guiding principles of the French Republic.

Mr Bataille said his client was deliberating shunning the hearing because ‘she does not want to be wrongly perceived as the symbol of a supposed rampant Islamisation’.

Many conservative politicians claim that France’s 6million-plus Muslims are changing the nature of the country.

They say that burkas are a symbol of many Muslims’ desire to exclude themselves from other French people.

This has led to growing support for the far-right National Front party which wants to stop the so-called ‘Islamisation’ of society.

Thibault de Montbrial, for the police, said that ‘a small group of radical elements were testing the institutions’ of secular France, under the guise of religious freedom.

Earlier this month, European judges heard the case of a 23-year-old French woman who also claimed the burka ban violates her rights.

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights will rule on the case in 2014.

Today’s case in Versailles continues.

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