The highest administrative court of France has suspended a ban on full-body “burkini” swimsuits, recently imposed in a town on the Mediterranean coast, reported BBC.
The court found that the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet “seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms to come and go, freedom of beliefs and individual freedom.”
The verdict came after a worldwide condemnation of French police’s ‘shameful act’ of forcing a Muslim woman to remove her tunic in full public glare as she sat on the beach.
The images, which went viral on social media, were interpreted as showing the woman being pressured by police into removing the garment.
“We have seen images of police officers forcing a woman on a Nice beach to remove her tunic when she wasn’t even wearing a burkini,” the CFCM said indignantly.
Nice mayor’s office, however, denied she had been forced to remove clothing, telling AFP the woman was showing police the swimsuit she was wearing under her tunic, over a pair of leggings, when the picture was taken.
The police issued her with a fine and she then left the beach, the officials added.
While presented by the mayors as necessary to defend secularism and public order faced with rare sightings of burkinis on French beaches, police have also fined women for being fully clothed and having their heads covered, out of the water.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve had warned on Thursday against stigmatising Muslims, as a furore over the banning of burkinis grew with the emergence of pictures showing police surrounding a veiled woman on a beach.
Speaking after a meeting with the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), Cazeneuve said,”The implementation of secularism, and the option of adopting such decrees must not lead to stigmatisation or the creation of hostility between French people.”