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France’s highest court overturns burkini ban

26th Aug 2016
France’s highest court overturns burkini ban

By Ala Abbas


The Muslim News: France’s highest administrative court, The State Council, has overturned the burkini ban on Friday, amidst criticism from human rights groups

The French Human Rights League (LDH) appealed to the court the ban put in place by the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, which was the first of up to 30 towns in France to recently instill the ban. The ruling from France’s highest court with regards to Villeneuve-Loubet is expected to set a precedent for the other towns, which include the popular French resort of Cannes.
The court said the ban “seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms to come and go, freedom of beliefs and individual freedom”.

Lawyer Patrice Spinosi, of the Human Rights League, told reporters in Paris that other mayors must adhere to the ruling and that women who have been fined for wearing burkinis can challenge the penalties.


However, the mayor of Sisco on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica said he would not lift the ban following the ruling.

“Here the tension is very, very, very strong and I won’t withdraw it, Ange-Pierre Vivoni told BFM-TV.
A woman in Nice was fined and forced to remove her tunic and fined on Tuesday. A woman in Cannes was also fined by police for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”. The 34-year old was wearing a headscarf, tunic and leggings.
Last week, Nice became the latest French resort to ban the burkini, using language similar to the bans imposed earlier at other locations. The Nice tribunal ruled on Monday that the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” to prevent public disorder after a succession of jihadi attacks in France.
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, it added.
The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has publicly supported the Mayors’ decisions and said the burkini was “not compatible with the values of the French Republic.”

However, he stopped short of calling for a national ban. His opinions clashed the Education Minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem’s view, who said “we shouldn’t add oil to the fire” by banning burkinis.
A far left Jewish group in France has openly criticized the ban and the secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference, Bishop Nunzio Galantino , expressed concerns about the ban and how it would also extend to nuns.
Moshe Sebbag of the Grand Synagogue in Paris came out in support of the ban earlier this week. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency “[The Mayors] understand today there’s a religious war, a takeover of the secular establishment of the French republic, and this is what they find unacceptable,” Sebbag said. Asked if he agrees with the burkini bans, he said: “Yes, because you see that going with it [a burkini] is not innocent, it’s sending a message.”

[Photo: Protesters from different societies stage a demonstration named “Wear What You Want” themed as a beach party style, outside the French Embassy in London, England, United Kingdom to show support for Muslim women on August 25, 2016 after 15 French towns introduced and started to enforce a ban on the burkini. Photographer: Tolga Akmen/AA]

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