Burkini debate: French court to rule on ban today

France’s highest administrative court will rule on Friday whether to uphold or suspend a ban on burkinis that has spread to more than a dozen coastal towns, pending a definitive decision, a judge said.

The court, the Conseil d’Etat, considered on Thursday a human rights group’s request to overturn the burkini ban in the Mediterranean town of Villeneuve-Loubet. But Friday’s decision, at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT), will not be about the legality of the ban.

Under the French system, the judge will merely decide whether there is ground to act urgently by temporarily suspending the ban until a judgement on its legality can be made.

Burkini designer slams French ban: Why punish women for wearing something representing freedom?
The court will therefore consider two things: whether the town’s decree banning the burkini is a flagrant violation of civil liberties, and if the harm caused is serious enough to immediately suspend it.

A decision on the substance is likely to take at least several more months or longer. The procedure was developed to avoid situations whereby serious violations of civil liberties by public authorities would remain in place for months or even years because of clogged-up courts.

Not just burkinis, European countries are debating bans on burqas, niqabs
The burkini swimsuit made international headlines after the mayors of Cannes, Villeneuve-Loubet and the Corsican seaside resort of Sisco recently banned, arguing the burkini, which leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed, defies French laws on secularism.