French court sparks outrage after ruling burkinis should still be banned

Court in Corsica says the swimwear still pose a risk to public order

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 06 September 2016 20:34
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The burkini ban was blocked in a Parisian court last month
The burkini ban was blocked in a Parisian court last month

A court on the French island of Corsica has upheld the burkini ban issued by a local mayor despite a higher court squashing it in Paris last month.

A judge in the town of Bastia upheld the decision to ban the burkini from beaches in the Corsican resort town of Sisco because it had disrupted public order.

Mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni's decision followed a public brawl on a ban on 16 August three days after three Morroccan residents fought with other locals after reports emerged that people had been taking photographs of a woman wearing the swimsuit.

It followed a ruling by the Council of State court 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 unnamed judge said: "Given the events of 13 August, the presence of a woman wearing a swimsuit covered by the ban of 16 August in certain circumstances can generated an averse risk to public order which is up to the mayor to prevent".

He said it was clear "emotion had not declined" since the incident.

Mr Vivoni told Agence France Presse he thought the ruling was a "relief for me and my fellow residents and even, I believe, for the whole of Corsica".

Video shows French women being ordered out of sea for wearing burkini

He insisted he was "not against anyone" and "everyone could live in Sisco" but there was a "risk of people dying" if the ban was not in place.

But the move has provoked fresh anger amid accusations politicians needed are "stoking this obsession" in Corsica.

Others have compared the ruling to South African apartheid.

The measure provoked outrage around the world when the first ban was announced by the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, on 12 August.

The local council said the move was to prohibit "beachwear ostentatiously showing a religious affiliation while France and places of religious significance are the targets of terror attacks".

Following his announcement a string of other French resort towns followed him in banning the full length swimsuit which covers the head amid mounting tensions after Nice became the latest city to be hit by a devastating Islamist terror attack on Bastille Day.

The country has heavily criticised after photos of armed French police officers forcing women to remove their burkinis on beaches with many pointing out the similarity with countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia who force women to wear "modest" Islamic dress.

France has a long tradition of secularism in public places and many feel the visible presence of Islamic dress threatens this.

It previously banned the headscarf from all state schools in 2004 and former President Nicolas Sarkozy banned the niqab - or a full faced veil - from all public places in 2011.

In April 2016, French prime minister Manuel Valls, called for the veil ban to be extended to all publicly funded universities and said the majority of French people think Islam is incompatible with the values of the Republic.

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