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A UN committee has ruled that France violated an international rights treaty when it banned a woman from wearing a headscarf while she studied at a school, AFP reported on Wednesday.

The move broke the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee said.

Its decision follows a complaint filed in 2016 by a French national born in 1977, whose lawyer does not wish her name to be published.

The woman was on a professional training course for adults in 2010, and had passed an interview and entrance test.

The headmaster of Langevin Wallon high school in the southeastern suburbs of Paris refused to let her enter because of a ban on wearing religious symbols in public educational establishments.

The UN committee said that "prohibiting her from participating in her continuing education course while wearing a headscarf constitutes a restriction on her freedom of religion in violation of the treaty".

The committee's decision was adopted in March but sent to the woman's lawyer on Wednesday, according to AFP.

In 2010, the French National Assembly approved a law banning the wearing of the "burka," or "niqab," in public spaces by a vote of 335 to 1.

Earlier this year, the French Senate voted in favor of banning the wearing of headscarves in sports competitions, arguing that neutrality is a requirement on the field of play.

However, the move was rejected in the lower house.

France’s move to ban the Muslim headgear led to similar moves in other countries in Europe. A parliamentary committee in Belgium voted to ban the burqa in 2010. Italy has drafted a similar law.

In 2018, Denmark approved a ban on garments that cover the face, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa.

In 2019, Austria introduced a law which banned the headscarf in primary schools. However, Austria's constitutional court later struck down the law.

Last year, Swiss voters narrowly backed a ban on full face coverings in public places.