France’s highest court ruled that the burkini ban is “clearly illegal”

Under siege.
Under siege.
Image: Reuters/Tim Wimborne
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The top administrative court in France, the Council of State, overturned the burkini ban in the town Villeneuve-Loubet today (Aug. 25), the Associated Press reports.

“The judge of the Council of state considers that no element presented is able to show that attire worn by certain people while bathing on the beaches of Villeneuve-Loubet has resulted in risks against public order,” the Council of State announced in a press statement summarizing the ruling and released on Twitter.

The ruling, a response to an appeal submitted by the Human Rights League (Ligue des Droits de l’Homme) and the Collective against Islamophobia in France (Comité contre l’islamophobie en France), referred to the argument put forth by several French municipal leaders that the burkini poses a risk to public order. “In the absence of such risk, the emotions and worries following terrorist attacks, notably the one committed in Nice on July 14, would not be sufficient to legally justify the contested interdiction.”

“The litigious order is therefore a serious infringement and clearly illegal to fundamental liberties of freedom of movement, the freedom of conscious, and personal freedom,” notes the court in its official ruling.

An administrative tribunal in Nice had validated the law against full-body swimsuits on beaches of the town, located west of the city. That set a precedent for 30 other towns to move forward with their own bans.

Outrage against the spreading burkini ban escalated this week after three armed policemen were seen ordering a woman in long sleeves and a headscarf to remove her blouse on a beach in Nice.

French Prime minister Manuel Valls said on Aug. 17 that the burkini is “the translation of a political project for a counter-society based on women’s enslavement” and “is not compatible with the values of France and the Republic.” Nicolas Sarkozy, former president of France and presidential hopeful of the right wing Republican party, has echoed the prime minister’s views and promised to enact a nationwide ban against the swim wear if elected as president in 2017.

The organization that submitted the legal appeal called the new ruling “a useful halt that resolves nothing.” In a press statement, the Human Rights League said the Council of State’s decision doesn’t prevent elected officials, in the name of ideology or driven by the thirst for power, from lashing out against muslim women.

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The full text of the Council of State ruling: