On Monday morning, without warning, a group of heavily armed French police descended on the Calais refugee camp to flatten a 100-metre buffer zone between the camp and the motorway. A church and a mosque were torn down, despite promises that they wouldn’t be touched. It’s all part of a wider effort by the French authorities to shift refugees into a new camp of numbered shipping containers, surrounded by a large wire fence.
…. Secularism can mean many different things. For some it is the simple separation of church and state: no bishops in the House of Lords, no religion test for political office etc. For others, secularism is something much more: purging religion from the public sphere. It’s a bit like the Victorian attitude to sex: if you must do it, do it privately and don’t talk about it.
Here, secularism treats religion as a dirty little secret, and manifests itself as a restriction of public prayer or the open expression of religious identity. And that’s about as neutral as the attitude to God taken by state communism.
In a recent survey in Le Journal du Dimanche, 56% of people said they would react badly if their daughter married a Muslim, 91% of people said that Jews in France “are very insular”, and 56% that they “have a lot of power”. State blindness isn’t helping. Laïcité doesn’t eradicate religious hatred. At best, it simply camouflages it. At worst, it provides it with an alibi. [Giles Fraser, 949 comments]
[TOP RATED COMMENT 597 votes] “But why don’t the refugees want asylum in France? One reason is because many of them perceive Britain to have a stronger tradition of religious tolerance than France.”
I suspect that’s fairly low down on their list
[2ND 415] “France’s official blindness to religion only masks religious hatred”
No. It doesn’t.
It separates religion from the work of government and administration, leaving religion to individual choice.
[3RD 361] “French secularism, or laïcité, treats religion as a dirty little secret, and manifests itself as a restriction of public prayer or the open expression of religious identity.”
Well religion ought to be a dirty little secret as it makes big claims for such small (if any) evidence. You see, human beings now use ‘logic’ and ‘rationale’ backed by ‘evidence’ to put forward theories and arguments.
[4TH 303] Careful observers will probably have noted a few displays of religious hatred in France over the last couple of years. Few people other than the author, though, would have thought to place the blame for these on secularism.
[5TH 284] “the ban on the wearing of headscarves in public schools, a ban which also included Jewish boys wearing their kippot and Sikhs wearing their turbans”
I suppose that all depends Giles on when you believe a person becomes a Muslim, a Jew (religion), a Sikh, or indeed a Christian.
I’m all for children not being labelled any of those until they are old enough to make up their own mind, and especially not demonstrate their allegiance to any particular faith group in school.
[7TH 270] In many parts of the world, secularism is a dirty little secret.
All this self-pitying bleating about religious suppression is just a distraction from the bigger problem – the persecution of people who don’t buy into the ludicrous idea of a sky-dwelling space daddy.
[8TH 264] “It continues as a cover for discrimination against Muslims.”
Sorry, but this is pure nonsense. Why is it that it is mainly Muslims who are having problems with french laïcité? I don’t hear Jews, Christians, Buddhists or Hindus complaining about it nearly as much.
Remember, this is a country in which all religions can be ridiculed in cartoons- except for one. The authors of these cartoons were killed by radical Muslims.
But a wider, more important point needs to be made
It is not the job of a laique society to mold itself around the religious proclivities of Muslims. It is the job of Muslims to mold themselves to fit into a laique society.
If conservative religious immigrants don’t like the system, they should leave France. France should not be expected to change its laws about laïcité, which are over 100 years old now, just because some immigrants feel marginalized by these laws.
“La France tu l’aimes ou tu la quittes.” Period. [Guardian Cif] Read more