Keyword: secularism

When France's laws on secularism don't apply to all

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Conservative councillors attending Catholic ceremonies in Lourdes wearing their official sashes. © Facebook Conservative councillors attending Catholic ceremonies in Lourdes wearing their official sashes. © Facebook

The French constitution sets out that "France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic”, and the country’s strict laws upholding the secular nature of the state and its institutions, including a ban on the wearing of religious dress and symbols in state educational establishments or by public employees, have been at the centre of tensions with members of the Muslim community. But a recent incident involving members of the council of the south-west city of Toulouse demonstrate that for some politicians, the rules of secularity are bendable according to one’s religion. Emmanuel Riondé reports from Toulouse.  

Macron slammed over overtures to France's Catholic Church

In an unprecedented speech to Catholic bishops this week in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said 'We share in a confused way that relations between the Church and State have been damaged and it is up to you, as much as us, to repair them', prompting a political uproar and accusations that he undermined the secular pillar of France's constitution.

French politicians up defences against 'Anglo-Saxon multiculturalism'

The perceived threat of the 'Anglo-Saxon model' is the upcome of distinct communities based on ethnic identity, while France, said PM Manuel Valls, 'does not see itself as a juxtaposition of communities, each with their autonomous path'.

French government plans new presentation of secularism in schools

French education minister says Muslim pupils must be made aware that 'secularism is not something against them, it protects them'.

In France, post-Charlie Hebdo debate hits new level of vitriol

Many members of France's intelligentsia and political class are now at each other’s throats in aftermath of January's terror attacks.

France's 'spirit of January 11' or the ghost of a unity that passed

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Manifestation du 11 janvier 2015 à Paris. © Thomas Haley Manifestation du 11 janvier 2015 à Paris. © Thomas Haley

Following the January 2015 terror attacks in and around Paris which left 20 people dead, including the three gunmen, there were huge marches held across France to express public outrage over the events. On Sunday January 11th, an estimated four million people took to the streets of the country’s major towns and cities, with an estimated two million in Paris alone. The French government, and in particular Prime Minister Manuel Valls, has since coined the phrase ‘the spirit of January 11’, using it repeatedly as a rallying call for national unity, notably as it drove through its recent law to introduce mass surveillance powers for the security services. But the recurrent references to what was a remarkable day have now turned sour, amid a heightening debate, as critics on the Right and Left accuse the government of attempting to invent a false conception for cynical political gain. One of them is Christian Salmon, a writer and researcher with the Paris-based Centre for Research in the Arts and Language. In this opinion article he argues that the ‘spirit of January 11’ has “evolved into a confusing scrum, a macabre dance with a cortege of grimacing masks, heroic posturing and denunciations”.

Confusion reigns over government vision of a secular France

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Just like the Left in general, and indeed many political parties in France, the government is divided over the key issue of secularism and its precise scope in French society. An example of this confusion is the forthcoming Parliamentary bill on religious neutrality in privately-run crèches which will be considered by the National Assembly on May 13th. President François Hollande and most of his government are opposed to the measure, even if it appears prime minister Manuel Valls might be more favourable. Yet after a backroom deal with political allies, MPs from the ruling Socialist Party appear committed to voting through the measure despite their own divergent views on the subject. As Lénaïg Bredoux reports, the resulting lack of clarity is a prime example of François Hollande's style of government.

The search for 'secularism' in France's inner cities

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Dessin d'enfants à l'école maternelle © LD Dessin d'enfants à l'école maternelle © LD

In its response to the terror attacks in Paris in January the French government emphasised the importance of schools and the central role of secularism in fighting intolerance and extremism. Mediapart recently visited schools in the north of the French city of Amiens, an area which has recently seen riots and where the Moroccan-born education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem herself grew up and was educated. Here the issue of secularism divides teachers, parents and local help groups alike. “I have the impression that, faced with this debate, everyone is a bit lost,” says one teacher. Mediapart's education correspondent Lucie Delaporte reports from the city.

French education minister to unveil 'Secularism charter' for schools

The charter, to be posted in all French schools, underlines that pupils cannot object to lessons and curriculum for religious reasons.