Burkini ban is illegal, France’s highest court rules – prompting Right-wing backlash and calls from some towns to ignore it

Burkini ban is illegal, France’s highest court rules – prompting Right-wing backlash and calls from some towns to ignore it

A woman wears a burkini-style swimsuit on a beach in Marseille, southern France
A woman wears a burkini-style swimsuit on a beach in Marseille, southern France Credit: AP

Burkini bans in French resorts are illegal, France’s highest administrative court ruled on Friday in a landmark judgement that comes amid heated debate about the place of Islam.

The State Council upheld a challenge by human rights groups which argued that the ban in the Riviera resort of Villeneuve-sur-Loubet infringed personal freedoms in a ruling that is likely to set a legal precedent for 29 other towns that have banned the garment.

The ban “constituted a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of fundamental liberties, ” the State Council said in its judgement.

Patrice Spinosi, a lawyer for the Human Rights League, said the decision to “suspend” the ban would also apply to the other 29 French towns.

France’s ban on the burkini – in 60 seconds Play! 01:06

The mayor of Sisco, in Corsica, vowed to defy the State Council’s ruling and maintain the ban in his town.

“This judgement does not affect us here because we had a fight over it (the burkini),” said Ange-Pierre Vivoni, referring to a brawl on a beach in Sisco on August 13 which preceded the ban.

The ruling will anger the centre-Right opposition and some members of the Socialist government.

The controversial bans on the full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women divided France and provoked criticism in Britain and other countries.

The debate was further inflamed after photographs circulated online showed police apparently ordering a woman on a beach in Nice to remove her long-sleeved tunic.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former conservative president, demanded a nationwide burkini ban as he placed Islam, immigration and security at the heart of his campaign to win back power from the Socialists in elections next year.

Opponents of the bans said they fuelled a racist political agenda as the election campaign kicks off.

Nicolas Sarkozy brands burkinis a “provocation” Play! 00:55

However, with France on edge after a series of Islamist attacks, a poll suggested that two-thirds of French people support burkini bans.

Mayors of 30 towns that have prohibited the swimsuit justified the bans on the grounds of public order and safety after the attacks.

Many politicians argued that the burkini could not be tolerated under France’s secular constitution because it was a symbol of the oppression of women.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemns French burkini ban Play! 00:14

Religion and public life are strictly separated in France, which was the first European country to ban the Islamic full-face veil in 2010.

Only two of the 30 towns where the burkini is banned have  fined women for wearing it. Nice has fined 24 women and Cannes six. The 30 women were ordered to pay €38 (£32.50) each.

The Socialist prime minister, Manuel Valls, backed the bans, describing the burkini as a symbol of the “enslavement of women”, but stopped short of calling for a national ban.

One thought on “Burkini ban is illegal, France’s highest court rules – prompting Right-wing backlash and calls from some towns to ignore it

  1. Mister Manuel Valls, enslavement is only possible when one lacks the ability to not be enslaved, and each woman wearing a burkini has made the choice to wear it!

    You are either making your statement due to populism, stupidity or, and that would be the worst possible reason, because you are ignorant and anti-Islam!

    Either one of the reasons shows simply utter backwardness, and a PM unworthy!

    And when you refer to wearing the burkini as enslavement, and by referring to it that way condemning it, why do you not condemn the forced wearing of typical hats by Jewish orthodox males? Orthodox young males are, in your context, enslaved to be forced to wear those typically religious symbols on their heads, and when you would be consequent you’d be condemning that sort of religious enslavement too!

    But because you well know that these males wear those religious symbols on their heads voluntarily you do not condemn the practice!
    You do condemn though the practice of Muslim females to wear a burkini, while they also voluntarily wear the burkini!

    Why mister PM of France?
    What is it mister PM of France, either you are PM of ALL French citizens and thus respect their religious choices or you are only PM of those French people who support Jewish, Christianity and all other but the Muslim faith!
    And when the latter is the case mister PM of France, you are a un-patriotic anti-French pro-nationalistic pro-populist creature, the political label of socialist unworthy!

    You mister Valls are a disgrace for France, for the the Socialist party, a coward as you do not stand up for the principles of the French nation, and all French citizens!

    You mister Valls, PM of France should be deeply ashamed of yourself!


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