Why France Overturned Their Infamous Burkini Ban

August 26th 2016

Almie Rose

France's much maligned ban on the burkini — the swimming outfit primarily worn by Muslim women — has come to an end in the French Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet, setting a precedent for the remaining French towns to follow suit.

Here's Why the Ban Was Suspended

The ban was overturned by France's highest administrative court because they ruled it "seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms" according to the BBC. The French Human Rights League and the Collective against Islamophobia in France led the effort in overturning the ban. John Dalhuisen, director of Europe's Human Rights Group, noted that all the ban did was humiliate the women wearing the burkini:

"French authorities must now drop the pretence [sic] that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women. These bans do nothing to increase public safety but do a lot to promote public humiliation."

Furthermore, lawyers successfully argued that the bans, enacted by the mayors, " overstepped their powers by telling women what to wear on beaches," Mashable reports.

Outrage Over Viral Photo Likely Helped

The viral photo of police officers demanding a woman remove her burkini on the beach likely helped sway public opinion against the ban.

CNN reported on people who became involved in the burkini controversy after seeing that image, like Jenny Dawkins, a Church of England priest who said, "I think it's a frightening image. I find it quite chilling to see an image of a woman surrounded by men with guns being told to take her clothes off." She then joined a protest against the ban.

It is likely that in the wake of this decision, other cities, villages, and towns along the Riviera holding up the ban will drop it, though one mayor in Corsica maintains he will not, the BBC reports. However, he may not have a choice; the legality of the ban for all communities is yet to be officially decided by the court.