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France’s Sarkozy Says would Change Constitution to Ban Burkinis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Protesters demonstrate against France’s ban of the burkini, outside the French Embassy in London, Britain August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Conservative Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy said on Monday he would change the country’s constitution to ban full-body burkini swimsuits incase he gets re-elected to his former role in a vote next April.

He stressed that he would impose a nationwide ban on the swimwear that has dominated French political debate through much of August.

Most of mayors who have banned burkinis in many French coastal resorts are not abiding by the ruling of the country’s highest administrative court to lift the restrictions. France’s highest administrative court suspended these bans on the grounds that they violate fundamental liberties.

The burkini ban was suspended in one French Riviera town, Villeneuve-Loubet, which was obliged to instantly scrap its decree; however the ruling was dismissed by many other mayors.

Asked about that risk, Sarkozy said: “Well, then we change the constitution. We’ve changed it thirty odd times, it’s not a problem.”

French Minister of Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, who was meeting with French Muslim leaders on Monday to ease religious tensions, said he would name veteran politician Jean-Pierre Chevenement to head an independent body charged with handling relations between the state and the religion’s representatives.

Sarkozy’s rival Alain Juppé, the mayor of Bordeaux, who remains favorite to be chosen as the right’s candidate, launched his campaign against Sarkozy, saying it would be illegal and anti-constitutional, and that it was pointless to push for a new law “amid media agitation.”