Top French court makes initial ruling to suspend burkini ban

PARIS, Aug 26 — France’s highest administrative court today suspended a ban on full-bodyburkini swimsuits that has outraged Muslims and opened divisions within the government, pending a definitive ruling.

The Conseil d’Etat gave the ruling following a request from the League of Human Rights to overturn the burkini ban in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet on the grounds it contravenes civil liberties.

The court said in a statement the decree to ban burkinis in Villeneuve-Loubet “seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go, the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom.”

Under the French legal system, temporary decisions can be handed down before the court takes more time to prepare a judgment on the underlying legality of the case.

The ban, which spread to more than a dozen coastal towns, had exposed cracks within the Socialist government’s unity as Prime Minister Manuel Valls defended it yesterday while some ministers criticised it.

The issue has shone a light on secular France’s difficulties responding to homegrown jihadists and foreign militants following Islamist attacks in Nice and a Normandy church in July.

It has also made French cultural identity a hot-button issue along with security in political debates as the country switches into campaign mode ahead of a presidential election next April. — Reuters