April 17. The arrest of a Muslim woman who refused to remove her veil sparkedfour days of riots in Toulouse. Police attempted to check the identity of the women after she was spotted wearing a niqab, a full-face veil, in the Bellefontaine district. French law prohibits the wearing of niqabs in public spaces. When the woman refused to cooperate, she was placed in a police car. At this point, more than two dozen people attackedthe police, who were forced to use weapons and tear gas to escape the mob. Hundreds of Muslims then went on a four-day arson rampage in Bellefontaine and the neighboring districts of Reynerie and Mirail, classifiedas Priority Security Zones (zones de sécurité prioritaires, ZSP), lawless zones where French authorities are attempting to reassert state control.

Soeren Kern