Corsican court upholds burkini ban over 'public order' concerns after beach riot

Pascal Pochard-Casablanca, AFP | This picture taken on August 14, 2016 shows the area where a violent fight happened the day before, leaving four wounded in Sisco on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica

An administrative court on the French island of Corsica refused Tuesday to lift a burkini ban that was introduced following a mass brawl on a beach, saying it was justified on public order grounds.


France's highest administrative court last month suspended bans adopted by around 30 towns, ruling that the measure was permitted only if wearing the Islamic full-body swimsuit was likely to cause a public disturbance.

Nice, Cannes and several other towns on France's Mediterranean coast have lifted bans following the Council of State's ruling.

>> Read more on "France’s pursuit of secularism at the roots of burkini debate"

But the mayor of the Corsican village of Sisco brought in his ban after a confrontation between Moroccans and local residents in mid-August, which was reportedly sparked when someone took a photograph of a woman swimming in the sea wearing a veil.

More than 100 police officers had to intervene to break up the fight.

The court in Corsica ruled that the ban should be maintained because "strong emotions persist".

"The presence on a beach in Sisco of a woman wearing a swimming costume of the type targeted (by the ban)... could cause risks to public order which it is the town hall's duty to prevent," the court in Bastia said, dismissing a challenge from the Human Rights League.

Sisco's mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni said the ruling was "a relief for me and local people".

He has told AFP that he brought in the ban because he "risked having deaths on my hands".

The tensions between the local community and Muslims in Corsica were demonstrated on Monday when two Muslim mothers wearing headscarves were accosted and prevented from entering a nursery school by two other parents.

The burkini bans have sparked outrage abroad, but opinion polls in France show they have the support of a majority of the public.


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