French court overturns 'Islamophobic' burkini ban in town of Frejus

French court overturns 'Islamophobic' burkini ban in town of Frejus
The French court ruled that the ban on the burkini had infringed on a number of fundamental rights and freedoms
2 min read
07 August, 2023
Frejus mayor David Rachline claimed that the ban was put in place for hygiene and safety reasons [Getty]

A French court has overturned a ban on the full-body women's bathing suit known as the "burkini" in the southern town of Frejus following a legal challenge submitted by the Human Rights League.

The prohibition, which was enacted by Frejus Mayor David Rachline, a member of the far-right National Rally, was ostensibly aimed at ensuring hygiene and safety for swimmers.

This was rejected by the French court, which stated the ban infringed on a number of personal rights and freedoms protected in the country, including freedom of conscience.

Live Story

Following the verdict, the head of the local branch of the Human Rights League, Isabelle Le Buzulier, welcomed the decision saying she was "pleased to see these freedoms thus preserved".

The burkini was designed to allow women to swim while complying with Islamic requirements of modesty.

The verdict was celebrated by several other public figures, with left-wing politician Catherine Aubry congratulating the Human Rights League on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

She said that she was "delighted with the decision", saying the ban "had the sole purpose of stigmatizing a religion" rather than being in the interests of hygiene or safety.

David Rachline, however, defended the ban, saying that the court decision "goes against the safety of our fellow citizens and against the basic rules of hygiene". Many have condemned the ban as Islamophobic.

Following the verdict, the town was ordered to pay 3,000 euros to the Human Rights League.

France has long debated over whether people can wear burkinis at public swimming places following a ban on the burqa and niqab in 2011. 

Most recently, there has been a debate surrounding a ban on the hijab being worn in sports competitions such as in the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.