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Leonid Bershidsky

What the Fuss Over Burkinis Is Really About

Europe struggles with the idea that immigrants can balance their old culture with their new one.
Day at the beach.

Day at the beach.

Photographer: FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images

It was rather obvious that France's highest administrative court, the Council of State, would strike down bans on unrevealing swimwear instituted this summer by French coastal towns. Last Friday, it reversed the first such ban, by the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet. Though some mayors still don't see why they should cancel their orders, rights activists will soon be on their case, too, and the precedent promises similar outcomes in most of these disputes.

The underlying problem that spawned the comical burkini bans, however, will not go away. It's that of integration: How well should people of different cultures blend into a society before it stops trying to push them away?