FRENCH REPUBLIC: Reaction to court decision to overturn burkini ban

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31 Aug 2016
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Women's Rights

Responding to the decision of France’s highest administrative court to overturn the ban on the burkini on a French beach, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director said:
“By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fuelled by and is fuelling prejudice and intolerance, today’s decision has drawn an important line in the sand.”

“French authorities must now drop the pretence that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women. Rather, invasive and discriminatory measures such as these restrict women’s choices and are an assault on their freedoms of expression, religion and right to non-discrimination.”

“These bans do nothing to increase public safety, but do a lot to promote public humiliation. Not only are they in themselves discriminatory, but as we have seen, the enforcement of these bans leads to abuses and the degrading treatment of Muslim women and girls.”


The State Council was ruling on an appeal against a decision by a lower court upholding a ban on the full-body swimsuit by the town of Villeneuve-Loubet.

Many local decrees ban the wearing of any form of beachwear that is contrary to hygiene and to the principle of “laicité”. Some of the decrees also state that, in view of the existing terrorist threat, wearing specific forms of dress that ostensibly manifest religious beliefs could breach public order.

The bans on burkinis are the latest in a series of restrictive laws against cultural or religious clothing in France. In 2004 a law on religious symbols banned any visible religious symbols in state schools.

26 August 2016

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