The New York Times reports: France’s highest administrative court on Friday suspended a ban by a Mediterranean town on bathing at its beaches in so-called burkinis, the full-body swimwear used by some Muslim women that has become the focus of intense debates over women’s rights, assimilation and secularism in France.
The Council of State, the highest court in the French administrative justice system, ruled that the ban, enacted by the town of Villeneuve-Loubet on Aug. 5, violated civil liberties.
At least 20 other municipalities, most of which are on the French Riviera, have imposed similar bans, and although the decision on Friday does not apply directly to them, it can be seen as a warning that their bans are likely to be similarly struck down if challenged in court. The largest such community is the city of Nice.
Critics of the bans have said they unfairly targeted Muslims and stirred up fear in the wake of deadly terrorist attacks in France and elsewhere in Europe.
The Guardian reports: Nicolas Sarkozy says he will impose a nationwide ban on burkinis if re-elected to the presidency in 2017, positioning himself as a strong defender of French values and tough on immigration.
Hundreds of supporters waving French flags chanted “Nicolas! Nicolas!” and applauded as Sarkozy, a conservative president from 2007 to 2012 before losing an election to Socialist François Hollande, promised to protect the French people in his first rally for the 2017 election.
“I will be the president that re-establishes the authority of the state,” Sarkozy told a crowd of more than 2,000 in a sports hall in Châteaurenard in Provence, a town where his Les Républicains beat the far-right Front National (FN) in regional elections last year. [Continue reading…]