France - Burkini

France’s top court suspends burkini ban

France's top administrative court suspended the ban on burkini imposed by a French Riviera town.
France's top administrative court suspended the ban on burkini imposed by a French Riviera town. Fethi Belaid/AFP

France's highest administrative court on Friday suspended a ban on the burkini swimsuit imposed by the French Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet after it was challenged by rights groups.

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In its judgement, the State Council ruled that local authorities could only restrict individual liberties if there was a “proven risk” to public order.

Villeneuve-Loubet was one of the 31 towns which have passed burkini bans thereby triggering a debate in France and abroad. A court in Nice had earlier upheld the ban this week, deeming it ‘necessary.’

The case reached France's highest administrative court after human rights groups sought to reverse the decision.

President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that life in France supposes that everyone sticks to the rules and that there is neither provocation nor stigmatisation.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he condemned any stigmatisation of Muslims, but maintained that the burkini was “a political sign of religious proselytising”.

He also said that the bans were necessary to maintain public order.

On the other hand, Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said the proliferation of burkini bans was not a welcome development.

She added that there was nothing to prove that a link existed between the terrorism of the Islamic State Armed Group and what a woman wears on a beach.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan too condemned the bans on Thursday during his visit to Paris.

Meanwhile, the French Council of the Muslim Faith welcomed Friday's ruling, terming it as sensible and a victory of law and wisdom.

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