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Europe Debates the Burkini

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A row over burkinis has reignited a long-running debate over Islamic dress codes in France and other secular European states.

Europe Debates the Burkini

Soeren Kern | Gatestone Institute | September 4, 2016

The French city of Nice has lifted a controversial ban on Muslim burkinis after a court ruled such prohibitions illegal. Bans on the full-body swimsuits have also been annulled in Cannes, Fréjus, Roquebrune and Villeneuve-Loubet, but they remain in place in at least 25 other French coastal towns.

The row over burkinis — a neologism blending burka and bikini — has reignited a long-running debate over Islamic dress codes in France and other secular European states (see Appendix below).

On August 26, the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, ruled that municipal authorities in Villeneuve-Loubet, a seaside town on the French Riviera, did not have the right to ban burkinis. The court found that the ban — which was issued after the jihadist attack in Nice on July 14 in which 86 people were killed — was “a serious and manifestly illegal attack on fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of movement and the freedom of conscience.” The judges ruled that local authorities could only restrict individual liberties if there was a “demonstrated risk” to public order. There was, they said, no evidence of such a risk.

Although the ruling applied only to the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet, observers said the ruling would set a legal precedent for the 30 other cities and towns which have also implemented bans on burkinis.

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Posted in: France, Islam in Europe

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