Burkini ban suspended by France's top administrative court
The ban "seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go, the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom,” the judgment, expected to set a precedent, said.
It added that local authorities could only restrict individual liberties if there was a "proven risk" to public order, according to AFP.
The top administrative court, Le Conseil d’Etat (the State Council), made the ruling public on Friday ahead of the official announcement, which is to provide its full legal basis.
The decision follows a demand from the League of Human Rights to overturn the burkini ban in the French Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet, saying the prohibition violates civil freedoms.
The latest decision means that wearing burkini is allowed again, but only in Villeneuve-Loubet. In other towns and cities that introduced the ban, it remains in force, unless it's challenged in court, according to Le Monde.
The mayor of the northern Corsican town of Sisco has already said that he won’t lift the ban, which was introduced after an August 13 clash on a beach there.
“Here the tension is very, very, very strong, and I won’t withdraw it,” he told BFM-TV on Friday.
Former French Interior Ministry official Yvan Blot believes that a reasonable way out of the current situation is to hold a referendum in which voters can decide if the burkini ban is necessary or not.
“The question is who must decide – the judge or the mayor. Personally, I would think neither of them, but the people. It’s possible to organize a referendum locally on this question, why not?” Blot told RT.
Robin Tilbrook, the chairman and founder of the English Democrats, says the burkini issue “demonstrates that they [Muslim immigrants] don’t want to integrate with European culture.”
The suspension of the ban is “a bit of a wishy-washy attitude,” but is still “the best that they [authorities] could do at the moment,” said Cecile Le Roux, a multiculturalism expert, in an interview with RT.
“Although we would have been much more encouraged to see them cancel the law as it should have been, because it is unconstitutional,” she added.
The issue “should be part of discussion and debate in society, but certainly should never involve legislation,” Le Roux also said.
Nice officially banned the burkini last week, following the example of more than a dozen other seaside areas. The ban states that clothing which “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks” is prohibited.