PARIS – Bans on the burkini continue to loosen in France after a court in Nice suspended the rule against the wearing of the full-body swimsuit on its beach.
The seaside city’s administrative court handed down its decision on Thursday. It came less than one week after the country’s highest administrative court ruled against the burkini ban in Villeneuve-Loubet, among the more than 30 towns lining the French Riviera that had imposed such decrees under the guise of secularism and public order as France reels from a wave of terror attacks linked to the Islamic State.
Nice was most recently the focus of one of the attacks, when a truck slammed into revelers who had gathered along the city’s seaside walk following the end of the traditional fireworks display marking France’s day of independence, Bastille Day, on July 14. Almost 90 were left dead and scores of others critically injured.
The Nice court ruled that emotions and concerns ensuing from terrorist attacks are not legal grounds to justify the contested ban and that burkinis pose no risk to hygiene, decency or safety when swimming.
Nice was among the first cities to ban burkinis this summer, and it has been at the center of the debate over Islamophobia and religions freedom, particularly after images went viral late last month of policemen at the city’s beach appearing to force a Muslim sunbather to take hers off.
Over the past week, other cities to have suspended the ban include Cannes, Fréjus and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.
France’s Human Rights League and the anti-Islamophobia association, Collectif contre l’islamophobie en France (CCIF), had jointly brought the lawsuit to the Conseil d’État, or Council of State, which is the final arbiter of cases relating to executive power, local authorities and any other agency invested with public authority.
“We are finishing canceling and suspending every current burkini measure that has been taken by the city halls, then we will discuss with the clients and the people who have been affected by this on what are the next steps,” Marwan Muhammad, CCIF’s director, told WWD.
The burkini ban dominated French newspapers in August and divided senior members of France’s socialist government in the run-up to the presidential election next year.