A top administrative court in France on Friday overturned a ban on full-body ‘burkini’ swimsuits imposed by a Mediterranean resort that has infuriated Muslims, feminists and civil liberties campaigners – and created an unlikely battleground in a national debate about secularism and identity.
The Council of State’s ruling said the ban imposed on overt religious garments on the beach in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet this month went “against fundamental liberties” of French citizens.
The ruling which was meant for the French resort will set a legal precedent for the 30 or so municipalities that have issued similar decrees this summer.
The court said in a statement the decree to ban burkinis in Villeneuve-Loubet “had seriously infringed, in a manner that was clearly illegal, fundamental liberties such as the freedom to come and go, religious freedom and individual freedom.”
“The burkinis did not pose any threat to public order in Villeneuve-Loubet,” the court said.
Friday’s decision comes ahead of a definitive ruling by the court, which will take more time to prepare a judgment on the underlying legality of the case.
The ban, which started in Cannes, has triggered an international outcry in the past week, particularly after images circulated online showing French police appearing to force a Muslim woman on the beach to remove her tunic.