French High Court overturns burkini ban

The French government has come under widespread ridicule for its burkini ban and commenter deepak shetty added a link to the various reactions around the globe. Meanwhile According to Newsweek:

France’s highest court has suspended a ban on the “burkini” in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, in a decision likely to lead to the overturn of 30 more such bans in towns across France.

The Council of State judgment said that the ban had breached “fundamental freedoms.”

Interestingly, France already has bans on the wearing in public of various religion-based items.

Hijabs were banned from public schools in 2004, along with other “ostentatious” religious articles, including large Christian crosses and the Jewish kippa. In 2007, full-face Islamic veils were banned from public places in France. In recent months, a number of French cities have issued their own bans on the burkini, a type of swimwear that covers most of the body.

I am not sure why those laws remains on the books while the burkini ban has been overturned. Surely those other bans are more wide ranging since women can’t wear those things anywhere, not just at the beach?

Interestingly, the burkini was apparently invented in Australia to be Muslim-friendly sportswear in order to allow Muslim women to participate more fully in activities that the more clumsy hijab did not allow, so in a sense it represents a slight movement towards secularism.


  1. deepak shetty says

    I am not sure why those laws remains on the books while the burkini ban has been overturned.

    I would think that schools have a fair degree of autonomy in enforcing a “uniform” -- which doesn’t apply to a public place.
    On a side note , anecdotally, a good number of non-Muslim Indians would support banning a burkha in public school but would support a Sikh wearing a turban -- and I dont think its always anti-muslim prejudice

  2. enkidu says

    I don’t really much care what people wear, or don’t wear for that matter, except for covering the face. This seems like prima facie (hah!) evidence of criminal intent. Exceptions for freezing weather allowed.

  3. J. R. says

    I see this everywhere in English-language media, but it was not the French government which passed a ban on the “burkini”: instead, as noted in your second quote, several were passed by right-wing mayors of coastal towns (the “mainstream” right-wing in the Mediterranean coast is notably more racist than the norm, though the rest of the country has been recently trying to fill the gap, and it could be argued that the FN is now “mainstream”). The party currently in power has nothing to do with it, though the prime minister did express support for the ban and other members of the government opposed it (the President, perhaps unsurprisingly, remained vague on the subject).

    I do see a huge difference between the ban on islamic-wear on beaches and in schools: the school is a place directly under the supervision of the state, so it may be argued that it should have more leeway to regulate clothing, especially for minors. I am personally opposed to a ban on islamic veil and other religious knick-knacks for students but I don’t think it should be thought of as the same level as the current bans (the latter are obviously, if not openly, racist while I think many people in favor of the former supported it on good faith for laicity reasons). I would class the ban on the burka closer to the one on the burkini, though I am personally pretty much horrified by this particular piece of clothing.

  4. Bakunin says

    Also, in the schools it sounds like there’s lip service to equal treatment, since christian and jewish symbols are prohibited. In practice, I’m sure there’s more dicrimination shown towards muslim and Asian religious symbols than towards christian and jewish symbols, but the law itself doesn’t seem to make a distinction, at least as quoted in the article.

    I do find bans on religious attire distasteful. Especially given that most christian religious attire is just business formal clothing, thus the bans only single out minority religions even if written in a neutral fashion.

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