France and the 'Burkini Ban'

It wasn't just Muslim women who were upset, angry and deeply unsettled by the events on a beach in Nice last week. A large number of people, both male and female and from a large number of different faiths, were appalled by what happened. On the other hand, many people were also supportive of the police’s stance and applauded their actions in seeking to protect France from another terrorist attack. Whichever point of view anyone held on the police’s actions, it has forced everyone to confront how far we still have to go in balancing civil liberties with national security.

In case you missed it, in a bid to uphold the ban on the burkha in France (the wearing of burkinis on the beach being considered a potential terrorist threat), 3 policemen on the beach in Nice forced a woman to take off her chosen swimwear, on the beach, in public, while they looked on.

Amidst a public outcry, France’s Conseil d’Etat has determined that enforcing such ‘burkini bans’ on the beaches is illegal and an affront to basic liberties. In theory they have now set a precedent that enforcing such rules in this way is unacceptable. Whether there will be a further challenge by those who feel that upholding France’s national security should outweigh a woman’s right to choose what she wears remains to be seen...


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