An Italian headmaster has banned female Muslim students from wearing headscarves, claiming they constitute a "provocation".

Aldo Duri, the headmaster of a school in the north-eastern Italian town Cervignano del Friuli, said that the measure, which applies in six colleges in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, had been made to promote the values of "tolerance, respect and equality".

"Ostentation and exhibition, especially if imposed, of exterior signs of a religious confession can be taken as provocation and spark reactions of ostracism, disparagement or rejection," said Duri in a statement published on the college websites, reports Gazzetta del Sud.

"For example, the handkerchief or scarf that covers the hair and sometimes part of the face of Muslim girls. They are free to use it outside school, but not in class."

In a recent incident, an Egyptian pupil was allegedly admitted to hospital for seven days after being attacked by a fellow pupil following an argument in class, reports Messaggero Veneto.

Duri said that atrocities committed by Islamic State (Isis) and the recent Paris terror attacks had heightened anti-Muslim feeling in the college, which has a large number of pupils of Arab origin.

"Since jihadists from Isis have unleashed, with the brutality of their attacks, a 'total war' against the West, Shiites, all kinds of 'infidels', including moderate Sunnis, pursuing the crazy idea to restore an Islamic caliphate, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments have spread among our students," he said.

He also called for legislation banning all religious symbols from schools, including the crucifix of the country's Roman Catholic majority.

Muslims make up Italy's second largest religious group, with 1.7 million living in the country.

However, the religion lacks official recognition, meaning that Islamic groups cannot benefit from a law allowing Italians to donate part of their income to religious organisations.

The anti-immigration Lega Nord party has introduced a bill outlawing the construction of new mosques in the Lombardy region in northern Italy, and in the wake of the Paris terror attacks Massimo Bitonci, the Lega Nord mayor of Padua, said that no more construction permits would be granted to mosques in the city.