Court suspends "beach ban" bylaw

Court orders temporary stop to bylaw that led to two Muslim women being refused entry to popular leisure area in Essonne

14 July 2014

A BAN on the wearing of religious symbols at Wissous Plage, Essonne, has been suspended by a judge at the Versailles Administrative Court.

Earlier this month, two mothers were refused access to the beach at Wissous, Essonne, because they were wearing Muslim headscarves.

But the ban was suspended at the weekend after a complaint from the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), which challenged the legality of the bylaw, arguing it amounted to “religious discrimination” and violated “the principles of the Republic”.

The bylaw in question was adopted in June and was inspired by a 2004 law that banned the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols in schools.

The town’s UMP mayor, Richard Trinquier, said that the beach was a “public establishment” - and was bound by laws that prohibit the wearing of religious symbols.

He said at the court hearing: “It is the principle of secularism. Under no circumstances is this text an obstacle to the practice of religion.”

But the lawyer representing CCIF said that the ban “violates a fundamental freedom, the freedom of religious belief” and accused Mr Trinquier of “confusing secularism with the eradication of demonstrations of faith”.

The judge “ordered the suspension of the provisions of the article” pending a further hearing, but did not rule on the merits of the case.

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