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Several French mayors defying top court's burkini ruling

PARIS-Several French mayors are defying last week’s ruling by the country’s top court overturning the controversial ‘burkini ban’ on some public beaches and resort towns. Reports have emerged of several women being fined and ordered to leave beaches over the weekend.


France’s Council of State ruled last week that the ban carried a “serious and manifestly illegal infringement of fundamental freedoms such as the freedom to come and go, freedom of conscience and personal freedom”.


The ruling, which applied to the ban imposed by the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, canceled orders issued by lower-court judges in Nice and represented an immediate suspension of the restriction which was operating in 26 separate localities.


However, mayors of some towns have vowed to challenge the court’s decision and refused to lift the ban. Most of the restrictions are still in place along the French Riviera, including in Nice and a swathe of resorts along the Cote d’Azur.


In Nice, video footage showed police in a motorboat ordering a woman who was wearing a headscarf, a long top and leggings to leave a beach on Saturday.


Other images from Nice emerged of police ordering two women wearing sunhats and headscarves off a beach.


Feiza Ben Mohamed, secretary general of the Federation of Muslims of the South, tweeted a letter sent by the group to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, asking him to intervene “to stop the violation of the rule of law”.


“The rule of law is the essence of our Republic. It is now ridiculed by local elected representatives for purely electoral and populist purposes,” Ben Mohamed wrote.


Former center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for office again in next year’s election, has called for a law allowing mayors to ban the concealing swimwear.


However, Cazeneuve told La Croix newspaper on Sunday that such a law was unlikely under the current Socialist government.


"The government ... refuses to legislate on this because a law would be unconstitutional, ineffective and likely to create antagonism and irreparable tensions," he said. "We do not need a new law. Current laws clearly lay out France's secularism."


By Hajer M'tiri (AA)

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