French court suspends burkini ban after outrage across Europe

FRANCE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE BURKINI DEBATE

French court suspends burkini ban after outrage across Europe

While burkini defenders say wearing the garment has nothing to do with promoting bloodshed, some French mayors have said the outfits could undermine public order by making other beach-goers angry or afraid.

The ordinances in question did not mention Islam or the burkinis explicitly - instead banned bathing attire that was not "appropriate", was not "respectful of good morals and of secularism", or did not respect "hygiene and security rules" - but the target of the laws was obvious.

France's highest administrative court has ruled that a town's controversial ban on burkinis must be suspended.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International welcomed the court's decision, with Europe director, John Dalhuisen, saying it had "drawn a line in the sand".

With over 60 percent of the French population in favour of the ban, it isn't hard to see why mayors of the coastal towns where the law was enforced would found it beneficial to keep the ban in place.

Since conservatives do not have a majority in parliament and such a bill would have no chance of being adopted, Estrosi suggested that Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who himself backed the bans, come up with a draft law.

The burkini bans have prompted a row over the French principle of laïcité - secularism - amid accusations that politicians are twisting and distorting this principle for political gain, and using it to target Muslims. They gained widespread global attention after striking images circulated in the press and on social media this week showing armed police forcing a woman on the beach to remove her tunic. Meanwhile, the leader of the right-wing National Front party Marine Le Pen, has urged French lawmakers to vote "as quickly as possible" to extend the 2004 law banning Muslim headscarves and other ostentatious religious symbols in classrooms to include all public spaces, saying "The burkini would obviously be part of it". Religion and public life are strictly separated in France, which was the first European country to ban the Islamic full-face veil in 2011.

While the ruling focuses on one town, it is expected to set legal precedent for all towns that have banned them.

Burkini bans spread following the Bastille Day terrorist attack in Nice last month. The Council of State has the final word on such matters.

After human rights groups challenged a local burkini ban, the Council of State is scheduled to issue a ruling Friday afternoon.

At a hearing before the state council on Thursday, lawyers for the rights groups in the Villeneuve-Loubet case argued that the bans were feeding fear and infringe on basic freedom.

Share your views whether you too support such bans in France or it is just an Islamophobic.

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