From The New York Times:
France’s highest administrative court on Friday overturned a town’s ban on burkinis, the full-body swimwear used by some Muslim women, setting a precedent that challenges similar bans in at least 30 other municipalities, most of them on the French Riveria.
In its ruling, the court, known as the Council of State, found that the ban in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet violated civil liberties, including freedom of movement and religious freedom, and that officials had failed to demonstrate that the swimwear posed a threat to public order.
The ruling also made clear that the bans in other municipalities could be similarly overturned, and the Socialist government now seemed eager to get past the issue.
In a statement, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve suggested that it was time for the local officials to back down, saying it was now “up to each and every one to responsibly seek to ease tensions, which is the only way to avoid disturbances to public order and to bolster coexistence.”
Still, the court’s decision seemed unlikely to end a heated debate as France enters a presidential election season. The center-right former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who has announced his plans to run for president again, supports a national ban.
This would seem to be good news for sunbathing sisters, who two days ago were being lumped in with burkini-wearing Muslims by a leading official in Nice:
The deputy mayor of Nice has said that nuns wearing habits are no more welcome on his beaches than women wearing burkinis. Speaking to presenter Edward Stourton on the World at One on BBC Radio 4 yesterday, the Deputy Mayor, Rudy Salles defended the burkini ban and said: “What is the burkini? There is bikini and there is burka and the burka is forbidden. When you go to the beach you wear a bathing suit. You don’t go to the beach as you want. If I want to go on the beach naked it’s forbidden-I cannot. “So if you want to go to the beach in a burkini it’s forbidden because it is a provocation. Religion and the state are completely separated. Religion is the affair of each one but each one at home, each one at church, not each one in the street.” When Edward Stourton asked him: “What about a Catholic nun. Would she be allowed to appear on the beach wearing her habit?” The deputy mayor replied: “No. The same.”
Photo: LA Times / Zanetti