Solicitors and barristers pass judgment on controversial ban
Nearly 80% of lawyers think it’s wrong that French police officers have reportedly confronted women on the beaches there and asked them to disrobe following a ban on burkinis.
In the wake of recent terror attacks the authorities in some coastal towns took the drastic decision to prohibit burkinis — a full-body-plus-head swimming costume often worn by Muslim women.
The controversial ban came into force about two weeks ago but with a staggering heatwave taking hold some women have chosen to defy it, prompting intervention by French police officers.
Police confronted a woman on a French beach after a ban on burkinis. Are they right to force women out of burkinis? pic.twitter.com/YUd90o60zN
— LBC (@LBC) August 24, 2016
Lawyers — who tend to lean towards more tolerant views — have been quick to come out against the ban and the actions of the French officers shown in the viral photos. Criminal solicitor Nicholas Diable commented on the authorities’ “Victorian attitude”, while media law barrister Felicity McMahon pointed out the law doesn’t have clear boundaries.
— Nicholas Diable (@Defencebrief) August 24, 2016
What if a woman is on a beach covered up and it's cold? Again, does it make a diff. if she's not a muslim/doesn't look like one? #burkini
— Felicity McMahon (@BitOfALegalGeek) August 24, 2016
When we put the question out on Twitter, 79% of the 321 surveyed said French police officers are wrong to make women remove their clothing in this context.
Lawyers, are French police officers right to make women remove their clothing following the burkini ban?
— Legal Cheek (@legalcheek) August 24, 2016
That said, one Twitter user argued that the police officers photographed were just applying the law.
@legalcheek Ontetesting that lawyers think breaking the law is ok.Understand if a law had not been passed but it has and police must enforce
— Financial Bear (@FinancialBear) August 24, 2016
Despite worldwide criticism, a legal challenge launched in France against the burkini ban was recently rejected at first instance. However, Le Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France (The Association against Islamophobia in France), which took part in the original legal challenge, has confirmed it will appeal the decision to France’s highest administrative court — the Conseil d’Etat — so watch this space.