The State Council (Conseil d’Etat), France’s highest administrative court, has ruled that the ban of the burkini which was enforced on the country’s beaches is illegal and a violation of fundamental liberties.
The laws, which was brought in by the commune of Villeneuve-Loubet, was specifically examined by the State Court.
Three senior judges said in the ruling that the ban “has dealt a serious and clearly illegal blow to fundamental liberties such as the freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and personal liberty.” They stated that “the outfits worn by some people to go swimming” has no evidence to be a risk to public order.
Human Rights League (LDH) and Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) took the case to the State Council.
The lawyer who is representing the claimants, Patrice Spinosi, told reporters outside the court that the decision should set a precedent and that other local authorities should conform to it. He said that those who have been fined could claim to get their money back.
However, its verdict sets a legal precedent for France.
“It is a decision that is meant to set legal precedent. Today all the ordinances taken should conform to the decision of the Council of State. Logically the mayors should withdraw these ordinances. If not, legal actions could be taken against those towns,” he said.
He added, “Today the state of law is that these ordinances are not justified. They violate fundamental liberties and they should be withdrawn.”
LDH said in a statement that the verdict is welcomed. However, it said that it would not resolve the “ridiculous debate that has made France the laughing stock of the world”.
CCIF said that the verdict gave them a “great relief for they cursed the mayors who have imposed the ban for damaging national cohesion. It said, “This victory has a strong symbolic resonance that will put an end to the onslaught of stigmatising and draconian political statements.”
The ruling has suspended the anti-burkini law in Villeneuve-Loubet. However, the mayor of Sisco, in northern Corsica, said he would not lift his own ban despite the fact that the State Council has announced the verdict as legal precedent for France.
Mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni said that he will not lift his ban. He told BFMTV (France’s local news channel), “Here the tension is very, very, very strong and I won’t withdraw it,”
Currently , there are 15 French towns which have applied the ban, including Cannes, Nice, Frejus, and Sisco. Cannes was the first city to announce the prohibition, while Sisco was the last.
The tension on this matter arose when the picture of four French policemen demanded a woman to remove layers of her burkini at a beach in Nice on the shore at the town’s Promenade des Anglais, the scene of last month’s lorry attack which caused eighty-five people to be killed and 307 injured on 14 July when a cargo truck ploughed into crowds celebrating Bastille Day. The officers then handed her a ticket for not “wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism.”
Another woman was also given a ticket by the police on the beach in nearby Cannes for wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.
“I was sitting on a beach with my family. I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming,” said the 34-year-old who gave only her first name, Siam, to the Guardian.
One of the witnesses, Mathilde Cousin, confirmed the incident and said to the Guardian, “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home’, some were applauding the police. Her daughter was crying.”
The ban has led people to react to this issue. Some agree while others do not. Below are some ways how people showed their disagreement.
Picture of nuns wearing their clothes at the beach.
— Irene Adler (@The_Whip_Hand) August 24, 2016
— Helen Prowse (@hlp) August 25, 2016
— Jaclyn Friedman❄️ (@jaclynf) August 24, 2016
Motorkini also protested the ban by wearing their clothes and laid on the beach.
Artists across the globe also participated in the commenting of the ban.
On Thursday (25 August), demonstrators made a makeshift beach for a “Wear what you want beach party” outside the French embassy.
“I think it’s ridiculous. No one, regardless of their religion and race, should be told what they should wear and where they can wear it,” event organizer Fariah Syed said to CNN of the burkini ban.