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AKIPRESS.COM - France's highest administrative court is being asked to overturn beach bans imposed by 26 towns on women in full-body swimsuits known as "burkinis".
A human rights group and an anti-Islamophobia association argue the bans are in breach of French law, BBC reports.
Mayors, particularly on the Riviera, say the bans are protecting public order and rules on secularism.
Opinion polls suggest most French people back the bans but Muslims warn they are being targeted unfairly.
According to an Ifop survey, 64% of French people are in favour of the bans while another 30% are indifferent.
The bans appeared to have split senior members of the French government.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls waded into the debate on Thursday, backing the mayors who had made public order decisions in the aftermath of the jihadist attack on Nice last month. The burkini represented the "enslavement of women", he added.
Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said that while she disapproved of the burkini as a feminist, she saw the bans as unwelcome and objected to the idea that the clothing a woman wore on a beach could have any link to terrorism or jihadist group Islamic State.
The controversy has intensified in France after pictures of police appearing to enforce the ban prompted widespread anger. Some of the women pictured in Nice and Cannes were not wearing burkinis.