French court overturns ‘illegal’ burkini ban in Nice

Judges conclude that the ban cannot be justified as there are no proven risks of disruption to public order.

A woman wearing a burkini walks in the water on a beach in Marseille
Nice was one of the first French towns to ban the conservative swimsuit [Stringer/Reuters]

A French court has overturned a ban on the burkini in Nice, concluding that the decree against the full-body swimwear was illegal because there were no proven risks of disruption to public order.

The administrative court of Nice ruled on Thursday that “in the absence of such risks, the emotions and the concerns resulting from terrorist attacks, and especially from the attack on July 14, are insufficient grounds to legally justify the contested ban.”

The court also found that burkinis posed no risk to “hygiene, decency or safety when swimming”.

The decision on Thursday follows last week’s ruling by France’s highest administrative court to suspend the bans introduced by about 30 towns, mainly in the southeast.

Nice and several other towns had ignored the ruling and kept their bans in place in the midst of a debate over religious clothing in secular France.

At least 30 fines have been issued in Nice since the burkini ban was introduced.

France’s Human Rights League and an anti-Islamophobia group challenged the ban.

Nice was one of the first French towns to ban the conservative swimsuit this summer, with city authorities claiming there was a risk to public order from wearing the garment after a Muslim man in a truck ploughed into crowds on the city’s waterfront, killing 86 people.

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Earlier this week, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said that the bans amount to “a grave and illegal breach of fundamental freedoms” and a “stupid reaction” to recent attacks.

Rupert Colville, the OHCHR spokesman, said the rights agency wanted local officials to “immediately” lift the bans, saying they did not increase security.

He said such bans “fuel religious intolerance and the stigmatisation of Muslims”, and “have only succeeded in increasing tensions”.

He said people who wear burkinis or any another clothing “cannot be blamed for the violent or hostile reactions of others”.

Source: News Agencies