France's top court to debate 'burkini ban'

Council of State will issue ruling on controversial bans within 48 hours

France's top court to debate 'burkini ban'

World Bulletin / News Desk

France’s top court, the Council of State, is set to examine the lawfulness of the controversial ‘burkini ban’ imposed in some French resort cities and towns.

The court’s deliberation comes amid a backlash by rights groups and politicians who are calling the ban on the concealing beach garment discriminatory and a violation of fundamental rights.

Thursday’s court session follows an appeal filed by the French Human Rights League and the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.

A court in Nice ruled on Monday that a burkini ban in Villeneuve-Loubet town was "necessary, appropriate and proportionate" to prevent public disorder after a succession of terror attacks in France, including one in Nice on July 14.

The Nice court also said the ban was “liable to offend the religious convictions or non-convictions of other users on the beach”.

Some rights groups believe the ban is a "serious and illegal attack on numerous fundamental rights" including freedom of religion and have asked the measure be scrapped amid fears Muslims are being increasingly stigmatized.

The Council of State will issue a ruling within 48 hours.

The ban has sparked anger in the country and the row intensified after pictures emerged Wednesday of armed French police in Nice making a Muslim woman on a beach remove her long-sleeved T-shirt.


- Government divisions

France’s education minister weighed in on the ban on Thursday, saying – despite her personal aversion to the garment – prohibiting it opened a gateway to racial discrimination.

"This clears the way for racist slogans," Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told Europe 1 radio on Thursday.

"It raises the question of individual liberties,” she added.

However, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, a long-time supporter of the ban, insisted on Thursday in an interview to BFMTV that burkinis symbolized “the enslavement of women,” but said enforcement of the bans must be handled respectfully.

On Wednesday, former French president and the center-right Republicans’ upcoming election candidate Nicolas Sarkozy described the burkini as a "provocation". 


- ‘Don’t tell women what they should wear’

Speaking on Thursday at a joint news conference with her London counterpart Sadiq Khan, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said: “The discussion is product of media hysteria. There are more topics which are far more important in France."

The first Muslim mayor of London has already hit out at the ban saying no one had the right to tell women what they should wear.

The Labour politician told the London Evening Standard newspaper: “I’m quite firm on this. I don’t think anyone should tell women what they can and can’t wear. Full stop. It’s as simple as that.

“I don’t think it’s right. I’m not saying we’re perfect yet, but one of the joys of London is that we don’t simply tolerate difference, we respect it, we embrace it, and we celebrate it.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Ağustos 2016, 15:02