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Secularity and Religious Symbols Xavier Landes University of Montreal University of Paris IV Sorbonne Laïcité.

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Presentation on theme: "Secularity and Religious Symbols Xavier Landes University of Montreal University of Paris IV Sorbonne Laïcité."— Presentation transcript:

1 Secularity and Religious Symbols Xavier Landes University of Montreal University of Paris IV Sorbonne Laïcité

2 Plan First Headscarve Cases (1989 & ) Laïcité & Republicanism The « Last » Case ( ) Two Views on State Neutrality

3 1989 Case Background (September) Three young girls in Creil Refused to school by the Director Official replies (September - December) Minister of Education (Lionel Jospin): advice of the State Council State Council: Decision of November 1989 « The wearing of headscarves is not inconsistent with any value of the Laïque and Republican school. » The directors should negotiate in each case Lionel Jospin : Circular of December 1989

4 Jospin’s Circular General dispositions Headscarves are not in opposite with the Laïcité Proselytism, provocation and propaganda are not allowed in schools School directors have to: Evaluate the situation Negotiate with young women Take the appropriate decision

5 Problems Some schools have added to their internal rule that ALL religious symbols are prohibited Decision of the State Council in November 1992 on cancelling an exclusion Directors and professors are left without any clear rules to settle the cases Hard criticism from politicians and intellectuals Opposition between French and Anglo-Saxon models

6 « In France, the National project and the Republican project are gathered in a certain idea of citizenship. This French idea of the Nation and the Republic shows, by nature, respect to all beliefs, especially religious, and political beliefs and cultural traditions. But it excludes that the Nation may split into separated communities, indifferent to each other, ruled by their own rules and laws, involved in a simple coexistence. The Nation is not only a group of citizens who bear individual rigths. It is a community of fate. » (Bayrou’s Circular - September 1994) Problems remain the same

7 Plan First Headscarve Cases (1989 & ) Laïcité & Republicanism The « Last » Case ( ) Two Views on State Neutrality

8 Republicanism and Republic Republicanism A set of political and philosophical justifications in favor of a Republican regime Res PublicaPublic object, public matter Republicanism would figure the promotion of the commitment to the common good, to the high interest of this « community of fate » and its priority upon other interests (especially individual ones) i.e. nothing is superior to the Republic interest Several Republican traditions

9 The French Revolution Main attempts To erase Ancient Regime inequalities and differences Differences as inequalities To unify the French Republic Jacobinism vs Girondism Two examples Deputy Clermont-Tonnerre (1789) « We must give everything to Jews as individuals and nothing as a people. » Saint-Just (????) « The sovereignity of people wants the people to be united; so the sovereignity is opposed to factions; each faction is a crime against sovereignity. »

10 Jules Ferry III rd Republic ( ) « Laïcité de combat » (Fighting Secularism) 1880 Law : Religious schools lose their right to give university diplomas & all « non-authorized » churches are disbanded 1882 Law All religious teachings are banned from public school programs and replaced by a « civic and moral course »

11 The French Republicanism People enjoy a real freedom only if they are freed from… …religion …tradition Why? Each group is a political threat Philosophical reasons Kant Be free is to be autonomous Individuals are able to impose on themselves their own rules of life Positivism Religions as former states of human evolution Rousseau If someone does not want to be free, one will force him to be free

12 1905 Law Title : Law on the Separation Between Churches and the State Article 1 « The Republic guarantees the freedom of consciousness. » Only restriction = the respect of the public order Article 2 « The Republic does not recognize and give funding to any cult. » State neutrality

13 Plan First Headscarve Cases (1989 & ) Laïcité & Republicanism The « Last » Case ( ) Two Views on State Neutrality

14 Stasi Commission Set up by the President Jacques Chirac Composed of scholars, politicians, school directors… Auditing people Deal with the secularism in general, not only with the Laïcité at schools

15 2004 Law A big part of the Stasi Report was ignored The focus stays on religious symbols at schools Some members of the Commission were disappointed René Rémond - « Secularist integrism » Article 1 « In public schools, colleges and high schools, the wearing of signs and dresses by which students ostensibly show a religious membership is forbidded. The interior rule should remind that all sanctions must come after a dialogue with students. »

16 Outcomes of the law Numerous students left public schools Official numbers : 143 (2004), 3 « hard cases » in 2005 Between 200 and 800 (Cedetim) What are they doing? Take long-distance courses Go to private schools (mainly Catholic) Renounce to education Main troubles Some fundamentalists want to set up private schools Law applies to Sikh people for instance Leaving these girls in their family is the solution?

17 Plan First Headscarve Cases (1989 & ) Laïcité & Republicanism The « Last » Case ( ) Two Views on State Neutrality

18 Neutrality I vs Neutrality II State neutrality Solution to the Wars of Religion Two forms Neutrality INeutrality II The State should remain neutral in front of religious beliefs No public preference or no support to a religion in particular The State should stay neutral, as well as people in some or all public areas All religious symbols are allowed mainly in the private sphere

19 A best model? It is a social choice It depends on the kind of society that people want Each model has its own advantages… Neutrality I: the more tolerant model, compatible with a multicultural society Neutrality II: the more uniting model …and its disadvantages Neutrality I: might favorize a distinctive competition among religious communities Neutrality II: might create inequalities for certain groups


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