France's top administrative court has ruled that a city's ban on wearing burkinis at the beach is illegal, a move that instantly jeopardizes the bans enacted by approximately 30 other cities on the French Riviera.
In its ruling, the Council of State said the city of Villeneuve-Loubet's ban on public displays of religious affiliation at the beach violated basic rights, and that burkinis posed no risk to public order, as the city had contended. According to Le Monde, while the other cities' bans are still technically in place, they will also be struck down if a party protests them before the council.
"[The local government] has endangered and created a plainly illegal attack against fundamental freedoms, which are the freedoms to come and go, the freedom of conscience and personal freedom," the court said in its ruling.
The case was brought by the French Human Rights League and the Collective Against Islamophobia in France. The issue of burkini bans was thrown into relief this month when photos emerged of Mediterranean cities enforcing the bans by confronting women wearing the burkinis at the beach. This week, a photographer caught police in Nice forcing a woman to remove clothing they deemed unsuitable.
The bans have received support from politicians of all stripes, including Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who said burkinis were part of "a political project based on the abasement of women" and "were not compatible with the values of France and the Republic."
But the bans received equal amounts of opposition, and this week, a hashtag, #LTBurkini, meaning "laissez-tranquile burkini" or "leave the burkini alone" was started to oppose them.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.