French judge upholds burkini ban despite top court ruling

By Peri Meyers

It followed a ruling by the Council of State which said the bans illegally violated the basic freedoms of women to wear what they wanted and could only be imposed unless there was a "proven risk of disruptions to public order".

The burkini, the full-body swimwear preferred by some Muslim women, was prohibited in a number of French regions but the ban was overturned.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve have taken sides with officials who have banned the burkini in more than a dozen French towns, while others have taken sides with Muslims and those in favor of women's right to choose their clothing.

Last month, the French Supreme Court for Administrative Justice, also known as the Council of State, had ruled that bans on burkinis were not legal.

"The presence on a beach in Sisco of a woman wearing a swimming costume of the type targeted [by the ban] ... could cause risks to public order which it is the town hall's duty to prevent".

The French rules say beachwear must be respectful of good public manners and the principle of secularism.

Tuesday's ruling can be appealed to the top court.

New York Times reporter Lillie Dremaux solicited the views of European Muslim women on the burkini debate, distilling more than 1,000 comments for the article.

However a judge on the French island said the ban imposed by the mayor of Sisco, Ange-Pierre Vivoni, should be upheld.

The burkini controversy reawakened the debate on the wearing of religious symbols in public in France, where a law banning face-covering clothing such as the burka was passed in 2010.

The article, which appeared on Friday, painted an "unacceptable image of France because it is false", Valls wrote in the French-language online edition of the Huffington Post.

One said: "French Muslim women would be justified to request asylum in the United States. given how many persecutions we are subjected to". Valls, bafflingly, claimed that the quotes had all been collected at an event called a "decolonial summer camp", an event held in France in late August for religious and ethnic minorities to discuss discrimination and tactics to counter it.

Another talked of being "afraid of having to wear a yellow crescent on my clothes one day, like the Star of David for Jews not so long ago". "Millions of citizens of the Muslim faith or culture respect their duties perfectly and fully enjoy their duties".

In France, the land of "Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité", Corsica joins Nice in banning burkinis on their beaches, The Guardian reports. Witnesses said hatchets and harpoons were used in the melee.

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