AFP: A top Iranian cleric on Friday called on Islamic nations to take in French students who have been deprived of education for wearing Muslim headscarves. AFP

TEHRAN - A top Iranian cleric on Friday called on Islamic nations to take in French students who have been deprived of education for wearing Muslim headscarves.

"Islamic nations should think about girls who are deprived of their education and they should either be transferred (to Islamic nations) or private schools should be set up for them (in France)," Ayatollah Ahmad Janati said during Friday prayers in Tehran.

The French embassy in the Iranian capital has been the target of demonstrations over a ban on Muslim girls wearing the headscarf in French state schools.

The French "are not ashamed of saying that depriving veiled girls of education is democracy," said Janati, head of Iran's hardline vetting body, the Guardians Council. The law has been almost universally observed since its introduction a week ago, and the French government has said there are only some 100 problem cases.

Iran's top decision-making body on cultural and university affairs - the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council - said on Wednesday that it would provide additional university places to well-veiled French females.

It made no mention of whether Iranian universities would also waive fees, but did say such students would be exempt from sitting entrance examinations.

Every post-pubescent female in Iran, regardless of her nationality or religion, is obliged to observe the Islamic dress code and cover her hair whenever outside the home.

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