France’s highest administrative court has suspended a ban on the burkini in a test case brought by human rights groups, pending a definitive ruling.
The ruling from the state council suspends a single ban in the southern town of Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice, but is likely to set a precedent for other towns that have prohibited the full-body swimwear on their beaches.
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 bans – made in the form of mayoral decrees – followed the Bastille Day attackin Nice and the murder of a priest in Normandy.
They do not explicitly use the word burkini but instead ban “beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation”, citing reasons such as the need to protect public order, hygiene or French laws on secularism.
At a hearing before the state council on Thursday, lawyers for the rights groups in the Villeneuve-Loubet case argued that the bans were feeding fear and infringe on basic freedom.
A lower court had ruled on Monday that the Villeneuve-Loubet ban was necessary to prevent public disorder.
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