Court on Corsica backs mayor's burkini ban

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A French administrative court has approved the ban on full-body swimming suits worn by Muslim women on beaches in the Corsica commune of Sisko, bypassing the recent State Council’s decision on the matter.

READ MORE: Burkini ban overturned in Nice

The Bastia Administrative Court agreed with Sisko’s mayor, Ange-Pierre Vivoni, who passed a law in August prohibiting women wearing so-called burkinis to visit municipal beaches for safety reasons. The court rejected an appeal filed by the Human Rights League (LDH) against the ban, French website BFMTV reported on Tuesday.

The court “considered that in this case, given the recent events of August 13, 2016... and that the sentiment is not settled, the presence of women wearing a bathing suit [burkini]… would in the current circumstances risk the disturbance of public order, which is to be prevented by the mayor,” the court ruling said.

“It’s a relief, the Administrative Court handled the case that way,” Mayor Vivoni said, welcoming the decision. “I issued the order to calm things down. We are currently a tinderbox of tensions,” he added.

In August, Sisko saw a massive fight on one of its beaches. The conflict flared between a group of migrants and local residents after a tourist reportedly took photos of women swimming in burkinis.

Bastia’s prosecutor’s office confirmed that the three brothers initiated the brawl with threats, insults and throwing stones. Burkinis were not the cause of the fight, the prosecutor noted. Five people were injured in the clash, three cars were burned out, and some trees growing in the area were also damaged.

The incident prompted Mayor Vivoni to issue the ban, which he stressed was “not against Muslim people, but to protect them,” he said back in August.

Similar bans in a number of French coastal towns have been in place since August 19. Some of them, including Nice, Villeneuve-Loubet, and the areas of Cannes and Frejus, have since been suspended by France’s highest administrative court, the State Council.

The burkini was initially outlawed in a dozen or so southeastern French towns since it “manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks.” The ban was supposed to step up security and at the same time increase hygiene at French beaches, authorities claimed.