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3Novices:Nice suspends burqini ban in defiance of France's high court

Nice, France // A court in Nice on Thursday suspended the burqini ban after authorities in the French Riviera resort defied a ruling by the country's highest administrative court.

Judges in Nice said the July 14 terrorist attack on the city gave insufficient grounds to justify such a ban. The decision followed last week's ruling by France's highest administrative court to suspend the bans introduced by about 30 towns, mainly in the south-east.

Nice and several other towns had ignored the ruling and kept their bans in place in the midst of a debate over religious clothing in secular France.

Nice was one of the first French towns to ban the Islamic swimsuit this summer, with city authorities claiming there was a risk to public order from wearing the garment after an extremist ploughed a lorry into crowds on the city's waterfront on Bastille Day, killing 86 people.

But the city's administrative court ruled yesterday: "In the absence of such risks, the emotions and the concerns resulting from terrorist attacks, and especially from the attack on July 14, are insufficient grounds to legally justify the contested ban."

The court found that burkinis posed no risk to "hygiene, decency or safety when swimming".

The emotive issue of the burqini was further inflamed last week when photographs taken on a beach in Nice showed police surrounding a woman in a headscarf and a long-sleeved top.

Nice authorities denied the woman had been forced to remove clothing. They said she was showing police the swimsuit she was wearing.

At least 30 fines have been issued in Nice since the burqini ban was introduced.

France's Human Rights League and an anti-Islamophobia group challenged the ban.

The chief lawyer for the city authorities had argued on Wednesday that the burqinis did pose a risk of public disorder.

She said the city was "almost on the brink of civil war".

* Agence France-Presse
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