A burkini is a full-body swimsuit that covers everything except the face, hands and feet.
The full-body swimwear is preferred by some Muslim women.
The name is a mix of the words “burka” and “bikini”. However, unlike burkas, burkinis do not cover the face.
Burkinis are marketed to Muslim women as a way for them to swim in public while adhering to strict modesty edicts.
France’s bans on burkini have referred to religious clothing and as they were loosely phrased, came to be understood to include full-length clothing and head coverings worn on the beach – not just burkini swimsuits.
In 2010, France became the first European country to ban the full-face veil in public.
A 2004 law forbids the wearing of religious emblems in schools and colleges.
The 1905 constitution aims to separate Church and state. It enshrines secularism in education but also guarantees the freedom of religion and freedom to exercise it. The original text made no reference to clothing.
A Corsica court has upheld a local ban on the burkini.
The court in Bastia ruled that the burkini ban was legal on public order grounds.
Last month, a beach brawl between families of North African descent and local youths left five people injured.
France’s top administrative court ruled in August that the ban, imposed in a number of towns across the country, violated basic freedoms.
However, the court also found that the measure was permissible if wearing the burkini was likely to cause a public disturbance.
On September 6, the Bastia court dismissed a challenge to the ban from France’s Human Rights League organization.
The court ruled that the burkini ban should be maintained because “strong emotions persist” on Corsica.
The measure was imposed by the village mayor in Sisco, where the mass brawl took place in August.
Mayor Ange-Pierre Vivoni said the verdict was “a relief for me and local people”.
He added that he had acted because he “risked having deaths on my hands”.
Witnesses said that hatchets and harpoons were used in the Sisco beach disturbance.
Tension has grown in recent months between local communities and Muslims of North African origin in the south of France, following the massacre of 85 people by a truck driver on the seafront at Nice on July 14, an attack claimed by ISIS.
The controversial ban on burkinis has been lifted in Nice – the latest French seaside resort to do so, in line with a national court ruling.
Bans on the women’s full-body swimsuits have also been lifted in Villeneuve-Loubet, Cannes, Frejus and Roquebrune.
French Riviera mayors imposed the bans, but they were overruled on August 26 by France’s top administrative court.
Critics see burkinis as a symbol of Islam and potentially provocative after the July terror atrocity in Nice.
On August 26, France’s Council of State ruled that the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet “seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms”.
The human rights lawyer who brought that case said he would take each town to court over their burkini bans.
The Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and the Human Rights League (LDH) challenged the Villeneuve-Loubet ban, turning it into a test case.
In recent days courts in several French Riviera resorts have annulled their bans – even though local mayors had vowed to keep them in place.
Two beach resorts in Corsica – Sisco and Ghisonaccia – still have bans in place.
France’s PM Manuel Valls wrote in support of the bans, saying burkinis were “the affirmation of political Islam in the public space”.
Burkinis were not mentioned by name in the bans, with the order simply saying beachwear must be respectful of good public manners and the principle of secularism.
French authorities had said that they were concerned about the public order implications of the religious clothing, especially after the attacks in Nice and Paris carried out by people influenced by Islamist extremism.