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Lesotho Times - - International - Sarkozy seeks burkini ban

PARIS — For­mer French pres­i­dent Nicholas Sarkozy (pic­tured) said on Mon­day he would change the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion to ban full­body burkini swim­suits if he is re-elected to his for­mer role in a vote next April.

Po­si­tion­ing him­self as a de­fender of French val­ues and tough on im­mi­gra­tion, the con­ser­va­tive said last week that he would im­pose a na­tion­wide ban on the swimwear that has di­vided the So­cial­ist-led gov­ern­ment and dom­i­nated French po­lit­i­cal de­bate through much of Au­gust.

France’s high­est ad­min­is­tra­tive court sus­pended on Fri­day a ban on burki­nis that had spread to a dozen French coastal cities on the grounds they vi­o­lated fun­da­men­tal lib­er­ties.

The burkini bans have ex­posed sec­u­lar France’s dif­fi­cul­ties grap­pling with re­li­gious tol­er­ance af­ter Is­lamist mil­i­tant at­tacks in a Nor­mandy church and the Riviera city of Nice in July. Images of armed po­lice ap­par­ently en­forc­ing the ban on a woman on a beach in Nice have added to the con­tro­versy.

The bans had been jus­ti­fied on pub­lic or­der grounds, and So­cial­ist Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls ap­peared to de­fend the town of­fi­cials who im­posed them.

Af­ter the court set the bans aside, how­ever, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve said a law against the gar­ments would be ruled un­con­sti­tu­tional.

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

Sarkozy is strug­gling to catch up in the polls with ri­val Alain Juppe, a mild-man­nered, more cen­trist for­mer prime min­is­ter be­fore their Repub­li­cains party’s pri­mary elec­tions in late Novem­ber. — Reuters

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