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French tribunal upholds burkini ban, deems it 'necessary'

A Tunisian woman in a burkini (right) walks in the water at Ghar El Melh beach near Bizerte, north-east of the capital Tunis.
A Tunisian woman in a burkini (right) walks in the water at Ghar El Melh beach near Bizerte, north-east of the capital Tunis. Fethi Belaid/AFP

A French administrative tribunal has upheld a burkini ban imposed by the Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet.

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The tribunal in Nice on Monday rejected an appeal by two human rights groups, ruling that the ban was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” to prevent public disorder after a succession of jihadists attacks in France, including one in Nice on July 14.

In its order, the tribunal added that the burkini was “liable to offend the religious convictions or (religious) non-convictions of other users of the beach,” and “be felt as a defiance or a provocation exacerbating tensions felt by” the community.

Villeneuve-Loubet is among the 15 towns which have banned the full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women from its beaches. The film-festival city of Cannes was the first French town to impose the ban. Three women were each fined 38 euros under the ban at the weekend in Cannes.

The Human Rights League (LDH), which brought the appeal with the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), announced it would appeal the decision to the Conseil d'Etat, France’s highest administrative jurisdiction.

“The administrative tribunal rejected our request. It's a decision along the way and it's not really a surprise,” LDH lawyer Patrice Spinosi said, adding that the same tribunal earlier this month upheld a burkini ban by Cannes, the first French town to impose one.

Canadian PM rejects burkini ban

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended individual rights and freedoms while touting cultural diversity and tolerance when asked about the burkini ban controversy in France.

“We should be past tolerance in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters after meeting with his ministers to plan the government's legislative agenda.

Some lawmakers in Canada's Quebec province have called for outlawing burkinis following bans in at least 15 towns in France.

Trudeau called for “the respect of individual rights and choices.” He dismissed the idea of a burkini ban in Canada, saying Canadians should rise above the controversy.

“In Canada, can we speak of acceptance, openness, friendship, understanding? It is about where we are going and what we are going through every day in our diverse and rich communities,” he said.

- with AFP

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