France’s highest administrative courts ruled on Friday that the burkini (burka-bikini hybrids designed for Muslim women) ban which has been observed in multiple French towns is illegal.
According to Reuters, human rights groups challenged the ban on the full body swimsuit, saying that they were illegal and imposed on an individual’s liberties; the courts upheld their argument.
The Council of State ruled against the French resort town Villeneuve-Loubet, saying that its decision to ban the burkini “had seriously infringed, in a manner that was clearly illegal, fundamental liberties such as the freedom to come and go, religious freedom and individual freedom.”
The ruling could affect other cities that have implemented the ban like Nice and Cannes.
Villeneuve-Loubet’s mayor, Lionnel Luca, had followed in Cannes footsteps when its mayor decided to prohibit the Muslim swimwear due to safety reasons, citing that “beachwear ostentatiously showing a religious affiliation while France and places of religious significance are the target of terror attacks.”
The burkini ban had already been regarded as controversial and caused outrage amongst some French residents as well as abroad. Videos and pictures showing French police fining women for wearing clothes that don’t “respect good customs and secularism” and sometimes forcing them to remove their religiously affiliated clothing surfaced on social media added fuel to the fire.
The burkini bans were enacted in light of the recent terror attacks in the country.
Banning religiously affiliated clothing isn’t unusual for France. The country also placed a nationwide ban on burqas, which prevented women from fully veiling their face in public.