Rabat – The Council of State, France’s highest court, suspended the burkini ban today, saying that local mayors have no legal basis for which to justify the ban on full-body swimwear.The ruling was issued after several human rights organizations, such as the La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (The Human Rights League) and Le Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en France (The Coalition Against Islamophobia in France) called on the Council of State to suspend the decision of the mayor of the Mediterranean resort of Villeneuve-Loubet, in southwestern France, to ban the full-body swimwear ban.“The restrictions that [the mayor] has placed on freedoms must be justified by proven risks of breaches of public order,” declared the Council of State. “The impugned judgment constitutes an illegal and conspicuous breach against fundamental freedom, such as the freedom to come and go, the freedom of conscience and personal freedom,” the Council added. The ban “constituted a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of fundamental liberties,” the State Council said in its judgement reported in The Telegraph.The Council of State’s ruling relates specifically to the south-eastern town of Villeneuve-Loubet, but the decision is expected to set a legal precedent for the approximately 30 seaside towns that have issued similar bans.The controversy over the burkini hit its peak when pictures of four armed police officers forcing a Muslim women to take off her hijab and outer garments on the beach were posted in news outlets and on social media.The photos created an unprecedented uproar worldwide angering Muslims, as well as human rights activists.The burkini ban in many of these French towns were enforced a month after the deadly terror attack in nearby Nice. A Muslim, said to have ties to ISIS, drove a massive truck through a Bastille Day celebration killing 84 people.A week later, Jacques Hamel, 86-year-old Catholic priest, was stabbed to death in another terror attack on a church in the northern France.French politicians yesterday debated the burkini ban in television and radio interviews.Former President Nicholas Sarkozy and other right-wing politicos expressed support for the burkini ban and the need for greater security after the terror attacks in France.Prime Minister Manuel Valls said yesterday he condemned any “stigmatization” of Muslims, but maintained that the burkini was “a political sign of religious proselytizing.”Moroccan-born French Minister of Education of Higher Education and Research Najat Vallaud-Belkacem stated that the ban of the burkini represented “a dangerous political drift,” in an interview with Europe 1. She said the “proliferation” of burkini bans “was not a welcome development.”While the debate among French politicians continues, one American terrorism expert questioned the reasoning and purpose of the burkini and burka ban as a means to combat terrorism in France.“It is the opposite of effective,” says Will McCants, author of The Isis Apocalypse and director of the Brookings Institutions’s Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World.“At least in the short term,” said McCants.
NEW YORK — Financier Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in New York, a former law enforcement official said Saturday.He was found in his cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center Saturday morning, according to the officials, who was briefed on the matter but spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly. The medical examiner’s office in Manhattan confirmed Epstein’s death.Epstein’s arrest last month launched separate investigations into how authorities handled his case initially when similar charges were first brought against him in Florida more than a decade ago. U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned last month after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was U.S. attorney in Miami.The 66-year-old had pleaded not guilty and was facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted.A little over two weeks, Epstein was found on the floor of his jail cell with bruises on his neck early, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. At the time, it was not clear whether the injuries were self-inflicted or from an assault.Epstein’s arrest drew national attention, particularly focusing on a deal that allowed Epstein to plead guilty in 2008 to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida and avoid more serious federal charges.Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reporting by The Miami Herald stirred outrage over that plea bargain.But his lawyers maintained that the new charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York were covered by the deal and were improper.They said he hasn’t had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.Before his legal troubles, Epstein led a life of extraordinary luxury that drew powerful people into his orbit.He socialized with princes and presidents and lived on a 100-acre private island in the Caribbean and one of the biggest mansions in New York. A college dropout, he became a sought-after benefactor of professors and scientists, donating millions of dollars in donations to Harvard University and other causes.Still, it was never entirely clear how the middle-class Brooklyn math whiz became a Wall Street master of high finance.Jim Mustian, The Associated Press