French sportswear retailer Decathlon has suspended the launch of its hijab for female runners after a public controversy, the company announced on Tuesday.
The head covering, which had initially been developed and marketed in Morocco, was scheduled to hit the shelves in March, but "violent controversy" and "threats" went "far beyond our desire to meet the needs of our users," Decathlon said in a statement.
In Morocco, the running hijab is sold for 79 dirhams (nearly 7.5 euros). It was designed at the request of local female runners, Decathlon's head of communications Xavier Rivoire told AFP.
However, the veil did not go over well with French politicians across the spectrum.
Aurora Berge, spokesperson for the ruling party La Republique en Marche, tweeted: "My choice as a woman and as a citizen will be to no longer trust a brand that breaks away from our values."
Health Minister Agnes Buzyn conceded that the sports veil was not against the law, but said it contrasted with the "vision of the woman" that she shared. "I don't think it corresponds well to our country's values," she said.
Spokeswoman for the conservative Les Republicains party, Lydia Guirous, accused Decathlon of "submitting to Islamism" and "renouncing the values of our civilisation on the altar of the market and community marketing".
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the leader of the Gaullist party Debout la France (France Arise), called for a "boycott of the Decathlon brand".
This comes just days after a hijab controversy in Sweden, another European country with growing Muslim population, where politicians and citizens alike criticised a welcome sign in the town of Gavle, which features a veiled Muslim woman.
Europeans remain divided on what Muslim women should and should not wear in public. Several EU member states have enacted legislation which generally prohibits wearing clothes that cover the face and particularly target such traditional Islam garments as the niqab, the headdress that leaves open only the eyes, and burqa, the cloak that covers the full face and body.
Countries like Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland have enacted bans on full-face veils. Norway has banned the burqa in schools and universities, while Germany has introduced a partial burka ban for judges, civil servants and soldiers.