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Anti-burkini law would be unconstitutional, says French interior minister

A majority of mayors are adamant to hold the ban and are refusing to lift restrictions despite France's highest administrative court ruling. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Paris, France Aug 28, 2016, 08.24 PM (IST)
Passing the law banning the burkini would be "unconstitutional", French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. It could cause an irreparable harm as it would stoke tensions between communities, he added. 

France's highest administrative court, the Council of State, ruled on Friday against a decision to ban the burkini by the mayor of the resort town of Villeneuve-Loubet, calling the ban a violation of fundamental liberties. 

A ban on burkini, a swimsuit that allows women to keep their bodies covered, in France has ignited fierce debate about women's rights and France's stringent secularism.

Around 30 coastal towns have recently banned women from wearing the swimwear on their beaches. 

However, a majority of mayors, including the rightwing figures, are adamant to hold the ban and are refusing to lift restrictions despite France's highest administrative court ruling. 

But Cazeneuve ruled out any such move.

"As the prime minister has said, the government refuses to legislate on the matter because any such law would be unconstitutional, ineffective and likely to create antagonism and irreparable tension", he said.

"However, Muslims must continue to engage with us over gender equality, the inviolate nature of the principles of the French Republic, and tolerance in order to live together in peace," he said, noting that in overruling the ban, the court had "stated the law".

He also took a dig at the opposition for trying to keep the controversy going at a time when the country has been shaken by a myriad of deadly attacks claimed by the Islamic State militants. 

"Certain opposition leaders are making a lot of noise. They think that in the current context of terror threats, we can abandon the fundamental principles of law as embodied in the Constitution," he said, warning that such a move would be "a serious mistake".

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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