Students at an elite Paris university sparked fierce debate Wednesday by inviting classmates to wear the Muslim veil for a day in a bid to “demystify” a practice that is highly divisive in France. Students at Sciences Po urged women to take part in Hijab Day “if you too think all women should have the right to dress as they wish and have their choice respected”.

France is grappling with rising Islamophobia after a wave of terror attacks by jihadists, and the students’ Facebook page said that those agreeing to put on the veil would “experience the stigmatisation experienced by veiled women in France”. A dozen students handed out flyers at the university by a table covered in colourful headscarves with a sign reading: “France got 99 problems but Hijab ain’t one”, adapted from a hit by US rapper Jay Z. FULL REPORT