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Another French Riviera town bans burkinis from its beaches

Villeneuve-Loubet became the second French Riviera town after Cannes (seen in the file picture) to ban burkinis from its beaches.
Villeneuve-Loubet became the second French Riviera town after Cannes (seen in the file picture) to ban burkinis from its beaches. Loic Venance/AFP

Villeneuve-Loubet has become the second French Riviera town to ban burkinis from its beaches. The ban, which was announced on Saturday, follows a similar decision made by the nearby Riviera town of Cannes on July 28 to ban the wearing of full-body swimsuit on its beaches.

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The mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet told the news agency AFP that he made the decision to bar the burkini worn by some Muslim women because of sanitary reasons.

“I was informed that there was a couple on one of our beaches where the wife was swimming fully dressed,” Lionnel Luca said, adding that he considered it unacceptable for hygienic reasons and that in general it was unwelcome too.

Earlier, David Lisnard, the mayor of Cannes who belongs to the centre-right party Les Républicains, said he had signed off on the burkini ban out of “respect for good customs and secularism”, a founding principle of the French republic.

In the city of Marseille this week, a waterpark cancelled plans to host a private event for women wearing burkinis after the idea sparked an uproar.

The issue comes at a highly sensitive time for relations with Muslims in France after two attacks last month linked to the Islamic state armed group.

Mayor Luca referred to the attacks in disputing charges that the burkini ban was discriminatory, saying it was intended “to avoid any disturbance to public order in the region which was hit by attacks”.

Islamic dress is a hot-button issue in France, where the full-face veil is banned in public places. But there is no ban on wearing religious symbols or clothing.

French court upholds Cannes burkini ban

A court in Nice on Saturday upheld the burkini ban in Cannes.

Three women backed by the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) challenged the Cannes decision in court on Friday, saying it was illegal and calling for it to be suspended.

But a court in Nice rejected the request, saying the move was legal under French law forbidding people from “invoking their religious beliefs to skirt common rules regulating relations between public authorities and private individuals”.

The judge noted that the Cannes ban had been declared “in the context of the state of emergency and recent Islamist attacks, notably in Nice a month ago”.

“The wearing of distinctive clothing, other than that usually worn for swimming, can indeed only be interpreted in this context as a straightforward symbol of religiosity,” the ruling said.

- with AFP

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