France ‘Burkini Ban’ Overturned By Country’s Highest Administrative Court: Popular Full-Body Swimwear For Muslim Women Isn’t Threatening Public Order

The “burkini ban” enforced by multiple popular French beachside towns isn’t legal, ruled France’s top administrative court. While the ruling against the burkas modified for beaches isn’t yet applicable across the country, the ruling is expected to set a precedent.

France’s highest administrative court effectively suspended the ban on full-body swimwear in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet. The ruling clearly implies that the town can’t impose a ban on the clothing, stating it is unconstitutional and baseless. The decision, presently limited to the French Riviera town, is expected to set a legal precedent across the country soon, dissolving the burkini ban completely.

After a month of intense national and international debate, which drew criticism as well as support from multiple sections of society, France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, overturned the burkini ban. Conflicting reports indicate the ban may have been effectively overturned in all of the 26 French towns that had chosen to enact it and not just Villeneuve-Loubet.

Why did the French beachside towns ban the burkini? The burkini is essentially a modified burka that is meant to be worn on the beach. Said to be an Australian-born garment, the burkini allowed Mulsim women to spend a day at the beach, frolicking in the calm seas, while still adhering to the Islamic laws that prohibit them from exposing their bodies. The full-body beachwear is quite similar to the swimsuits that many swimmers wear.

While there are multiple reasons behind the burkini ban, it has its origins in the two laws that France had enacted a few years ago. France was the first European country to completely ban the full-face veil in 2010. However, way back in 2004, France had prohibited religious wear such as headscarves in public schools.

France appears convinced that the need of a Muslim woman to dress in a way that appears to maintain her modesty somehow impedes the rights, including liberty, equality, and fraternity, accorded to the common citizenry of the country. The sentiments of the country were echoed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who claimed that the full-length bathing suit Muslim women insisted on wearing on the beach was nothing short of a means of enslavement. At the height of the ban, multiple armed policemen were seen asking women to remove their burkinis.


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France has always claimed to be one of the most secular nations in the world. However, the country justified the ban on burkinis by stating the law was passed to protect them. Devoid of a burkini, a Muslim woman was indecipherable from any other female and that diminished the chances of her being harassed or targeted in hate crimes, claimed the authorities.

However, the administrative court didn’t support these views and stated there was no evidence to prove these women were at any risk by wearing a burkini. The court further added that the bathing garment couldn’t disturb public order. The court has effectively overturned a ruling from the lower court that had stated the ban was “necessary, appropriate, and proportionate” to prevent public disorder.

With the presidential elections less than a year away, many experts insist the French political parties are trying to milk Islamophobia, which was at an all-time high after the Nice attacks. Many claim that the burkini ban was nothing more than a retaliatory measure to slowly strip away Islam from France.

[Photo by Fadel Senna/Getty Images]

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