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French court overturns Nice burqini ban after defiance

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French court overturns Nice burqini ban after defiance
16:30 CEST+02:00
Two weeks after causing a worldwide row the burqini bans imposed on beach resorts across the French Riviera are being overturned by the courts one by one.

The latest burqini ban to be officially quashed was the one in Nice, where pictures of French police allegedly ordering a Muslim woman to remove clothing brought condemnation on France from the UN and rights groups around the world.

But judges in Nice have now put an end to the controversial bylaw, ruling that it was based on false grounds.

"The mayor cannot, without exceeding his powers, enact a provision that prohibits access to the beach and the sea if it is not based on a proven risk of provoking public order, or established violations of hygiene, decency or safety,” read the ruling from the magistrates.

They also said that the emotions and fears resulting from the terror attacks, particularly the one in Nice on July 14th were not enough to justify the law.

'Nice on brink of civil war'

The chief lawyer for the city authorities had argued on Wednesday that the burkinis did pose a risk of public disorder.

She said the city was "almost on the brink of civil war".

The decision to suspend the burqini ban in Nice comes after similar bylaws were overturned for the towns of Cannes, Frejus and Villeneuve-Loubet earlier this week.

(W/Flickr)

The suspensions come after France's highest court the State Council ruled last week that the bans were a “serious and illegal attack on fundamental freedoms.”

The ban on the full-body bathing suit in Nice was announced on August 19th by former mayor Christian Estrosi.

"Wearing an all-covering outfit does not match our ideal of a social relationship," he said. 

Nice, France's most famous Riviera resort soon became the capital of burqini fines, where 24 fines were handed out in the first week.

And even when France's top administrative court ruled the 30 or so burqini bans that had been announced in beach towns around the country were illegal, authorities in Nice vowed to continue handing out fines.

The fight against the bans has been led by the Collective Against Islamophobia (CCIF) and the League of Human Rights, which is taking each town to court one by one.

However Nice Matin newspaper claims that burqini bans remain in place in around six towns along the Riviera.

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