Yahoo – AFP, Aurelia END, August 26, 2016
|People hold a banner reading "No to the ban on burkinis" in front of Port-Leucate city|
hall in Leucate, southern France, on August 25, 2016 (AFP Photo/Raymond Roig)
Paris (AFP) - France's highest administrative court on Friday suspended a controversial ban on the burkini by a French Riviera town after it was challenged by rights groups.
In a judgement expected to lead to bans being overturned in around 30 towns, the State Council ruled the measure was a "serious and clearly illegal violation of fundamental freedoms".
The court said local authorities could only introduce measures restricting individual freedoms if wearing the Islamic swimsuit on beaches represented a "proven risk" to public order.
The judges said there was no such risk in the case before the court concerning Villeneuve-Loubet, a resort on the Cote d'Azur between Nice and Cannes.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) hailed the ruling as a "victory for common sense".
Police have fined Muslim women for wearing burkinis on beaches in several towns, including in the popular tourist resorts of Nice and Cannes, sparking controversy in France and abroad.
The mayor of one town in Corsica said he would keep his ban in place in defiance of the ruling.
The bans have triggered a fierce debate about women's rights and the French state's strictly-guarded secularism.
The French beach ban on Islamic garb has caused controversy over women's
rights and secularism and confusion over what constitutes a burkini (AFP Photo/
Iris Royer de Vericourt)
'Line in the sand'
Amnesty International said the decision had "drawn an important line in the sand".
"French authorities must now drop the pretence that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women," Amnesty's Europe director John Dalhuisen said.
"These bans do nothing to increase public safety but do a lot to promote public humiliation."
CFCM secretary general Abdallah Zekri said: "This victory for common sense will help to take the tension out of a situation which has become very tense for our Muslim compatriots, especially women."
The State Council heard arguments from the Human Rights League and an anti-Islamophobia group (CCIF).
A court in Nice had upheld the Villeneuve-Loubet ban this week.
Anger over the issue was further inflamed this week when photographs in the British media showed police surrounding a woman in a headscarf on a beach in Nice.
The mayor's office denied the woman had been forced to remove clothing, telling AFP she was showing police the swimsuit she was wearing under her top, over a pair of leggings, when the picture was taken.
Tunisian women, one (R) wearing a "burkini", a full-body
swimsuit designed for Muslim women, pictured at Ghar El
Melh beach near Bizerte, northeast of the capital Tunis,
on August 16, 2016 (AFP Photo/Fethi Belaid)
'We are protecting them'
Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday condemned any "stigmatisation" of Muslims, but maintained that the burkini was "a political sign of religious proselytising".
"We are not at war with Islam... the French republic is welcoming (to Muslims), we are protecting them against discrimination," he told BFMTV.
But in a sign of the divisions within the Socialist government on the issue, Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said the "proliferation" of burkini bans "was not a welcome development".
Vallaud-Belkacem, who is of Moroccan origin, took issue with the wording of the ban in Nice which linked the measure to last month's jihadist truck attack in the resort that killed 86 people.
"In my opinion, there is nothing to prove that there is a link between the terrorism of Daesh and what a woman wears on a beach," she said, using another term for the Islamic State (IS) group.
Lawyer for the French Human Rights League (LDH), Patrick Spinosi, speaks to
journalists on August 26, 2016 in Paris, after France's highest administrative
court suspended a ban on the Islamic burkini swimsuit (AFP Photo/Dominique Faget)
'No legal justification'
The administrative court in Nice on Monday said the Villeneuve-Loubet ban was "necessary" to prevent "public disorder" after the Nice attack and the murder 12 days later of a Catholic priest by two jihadists in northern France.
But in its ruling, the State Council said: "In the absence of such risks, the emotion and the concerns arising from terrorist attacks, especially the attack in Nice on July 14, are not sufficient to legally justify a ban."
Ange-Pierre Vivoni, the mayor of the small Corsican town of Sisco, said he would keep the ban in place because the issue had sparked a violent beachfront brawl earlier this month.
"I introduced the ban for the safety of property and people in the town because I risked having deaths on my hands," he told AFP.
The vague wording of the prohibitions, which never mention the word burkini, has caused confusion.
Apart from the photographed incident in Nice, a 34-year-old mother of two told AFP on Tuesday she had been fined on the beach in Cannes for wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.
France was the first European country to ban the wearing of the Islamic face veil in public in 2010.
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)
“. New Tolerance
Look for a softening of finger pointing and an awakening of new tolerance. There will remain many systems for different cultures, as traditions and history are important to sustaining the integrity of culture. So there are many in the Middle East who would follow the prophet and they will continue, but with an increase of awareness. It will be the increase of awareness of what the prophet really wanted all along - unity and tolerance. The angel in the cave instructed him to "unify the tribes and give them the God of Israel." You're going to start seeing a softening of intolerance and the beginning of a new way of being.
Eventually, this will create an acknowledgement that says, "You may not believe the way we believe, but we honor you and your God. We honor our prophet and we will love you according to his teachings. We don't have to agree in order to love." How would you like that? The earth is not going to turn into one belief system. It never will, for Humans don't do that. There must be variety, and there must be the beauty of cultural differences. But the systems will slowly update themselves with increased awareness of the truth of a new kind of balance. So that's the first thing. Watch for these changes, dear ones. ...."