French High Court Rules on Town's Burkini Ban

Council of State says women on resort's beaches can wear full-body swimsuit if they want
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2016 10:13 AM CDT
Burkinis Back in French Town, Thanks to High Court
In this Aug. 4, 2016, file photo, a young woman wades into the water wearing a burkini in Marseille, France.   (AP Photo, File)

France's tussle with the burkini was just dealt a strong blow by the country's top administrative court, which on Friday overturned one resort town's ban against the full-body beachwear, the AP reports. The ruling from the Council of State comes during a summer of high-profile cases along the French Riviera in which Cannes and more than two dozen other municipalities have forbidden Muslim women to don the specialized swimsuits. In the words of the Cannes mayor, the burkini is a "symbol of Islamic extremism" that doesn't respect "good morals and secularism" in a country that's been hard hit by militant attacks in recent months. But the director of Amnesty International's European office disagrees with this tactic, noting "these bans do nothing to increase public safety, but do a lot to promote public humiliation," per the BBC.

The Council of State heard arguments from lawyers for two human rights groups who noted that mayors in the towns that have nixed the burkinis don't have the right to tell women what to wear. Protests in support of the burkini have been taking place around the world, per CNN, including a "wear what you want beach party" Thursday held on a DIY "beach" outside the French Embassy in London. Although Friday's decision refers specifically to the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, it's expected to set a legal precedent for other resorts that have issued the same mandate. At least one mayor—in Corsica—is already saying he'll continue to enforce the ban, despite the court's ruling, the BBC reports. (What the inventor of the burkini has to say about all of this.)

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