French Burkini Bans Face Legal Challenge as Tension Mounts | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

French Burkini Bans Face Legal Challenge as Tension Mounts

Some fear that burkini bans in several French towns are worsening religious tensions

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    An activist protests outside the French embassy during, the "wear what you want beach party" in London on Aug. 25, 2016. The protest is against the French authorities clampdown on Muslim women wearing burkinis on the beach.

    France's highest administrative authority is studying whether local bans on full-body burkini swimsuits are legal, amid growing concerns in the country and abroad about police forcing Muslim women to disrobe.

    Images of uniformed police appearing to require a woman to take off her tunic, and media accounts of similar incidents, have elicited shock and anger online this week.

    Five Viral Moments From Trump's Trip Abroad

    [NATL] Five Viral Moments From Trump's Trip Abroad

    President Donald Trump's first trip abroad since taking office has been filled with viral moments. Here are five that had people talking and tweeting.

    (Published Thursday, May 25, 2017)

    Some fear that burkini bans in several French towns are worsening religious tensions. The bans, based on a strict application of secularism policies, have exposed division within the government.

    Prime Minister Manuel Valls told BFM television Thursday that burkinis represent "the enslavement of women" and reiterated his support for mayors who have banned them.

    But Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a feminist with North African roots, said that while she doesn't like the burkini swimsuit, bans of the garment are politically driven and unleashing racist sentiment.

    "My dream of society is a society where women are free and proud of their bodies," she said on Europe-1 radio. But with tensions in France high after a series of deadly Islamic extremist attacks, she said, "We shouldn't add oil to the fire" by banning burkinis.

    Airborne Jeep Slams Into Occupied Home

    [NATL] Airborne Jeep Slams Into Occupied Home

    A Jeep flew into the side of a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, duplex Thursday morning, to the disbelief of a tenant who was sleeping inside. 

    (Published Friday, May 26, 2017)

    Critics of the local decrees have said the orders are too vague, prompting local police officials to fine even women wearing the traditional Islamic headscarf and the hijab, but not burkinis.

    The prime minister, while stressing his opposition to the burkini, urged police to implement the bans fairly and respectfully.

    Two human rights groups, arguing the bans are discriminatory, have appealed to the Council of State to overturn the measures.

    The council is holding a hearing in the case Thursday and is expected to rule within 48 hours. The ruling specifically concerns a ban in the Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet, but the decision will be binding and set legal precedent on the increasingly heated question of whether cities can tell Muslim women what to wear to the beach.

    The Human Rights League and the Collective Against Islamophobia in France say the mayor's decree violates basic freedoms of dress, religious expression and movement.

    The Villeneuve-Loubet order bars from local beaches any people whose garments don't respect the principles of secularism, health and safety rules and good moral standards. Like other local decrees, the Villeneuve-Loubet ban doesn't explicitly mention the word "burkini."

    The conservative mayor in Villeneuve-Loubet, Lionnel Luca, has said he wanted to foresee any disruption to the public order in a region badly hurt by the deadly Bastille Day truck attack in nearby Nice last month. The two towns are only 15 kilometers (9 miles) apart.

    On Monday, a lower court in Nice ruled that the Villeneuve-Loubet ban was "necessary, appropriate and proportionate." The administrative court added that wearing "conspicuous" religious clothing on the beaches may be seen as a "provocation" by some people and increase local tensions.

    Caught on Video: Officer Saves Deer From Storm Drain

    [NATL-DFW] Caught on Video: Officer Saves Deer From Storm Drain

    A New Jersey police officer is credited with rescuing three deer in the past year. He is now affectionately known as "The Deer Whisperer," and his latest rescue was caught on camera. The cute baby deer was trapped in a storm drain. Officer Timothy Majek, a 22 year veteran of the Woodbridge Police Department, quickly came to the rescue. Majek, a self-professed animal lover, jumped into the drain and lifted the fawn to safety. 

    (Published Thursday, May 25, 2017)

    The Nice court also said that burkinis can be viewed as an "expression of an erasing" of women and of "a lowering of their place which is not consistent with their status in a democratic society."

    Religious clothing is particularly sensitive in France, where an unusually large part of the population has no religious affiliation, and where the first provision in the constitution says France is a "secular Republic."