France's Hollande rejects nationwide burkini ban

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday rejected the idea of a new law to ban the burkini, the full-body bathing suit designed for conservative Muslim women.

"I affirm here that, as long as I am president of the republic, there will not be any ad hoc legislation, just as inapplicable as it is unconstitutional," Hollande said in a speech delivered in Paris.

Hollande was rejecting pressure from opposition conservatives to introduce new legislation to ban the garment, which they say contravenes France's strict secularist constitution.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who has announced he hopes to run again for France's top job in next year's presidential election, has called for legislation to introduce a nationwide burkini ban.

In addition, Sarkozy has said all outward signs of religious affiliation should be banned in public institutions, such as schools, universities and administrative offices, but also in companies.

Dozens of French seaside towns introduced local burkini bans on their beaches this year after a series of Islamist attacks, one in the Mediterranean resort of Nice on July 14, where an attacker mowed down Bastille Day revellers on the promenade, killing 86 people.

At the end of August, the country's top administrative court struck down the local bans as violating basic freedoms.

The bans have split opinion in the socialist government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Last update: Thu, 08/09/2016 - 16:09

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