Religious Freedom in a Secular Society: An Analysis of the French Approach to Manifestation of Beliefs in the Public Sphere
15 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2011
Date Written: January 17, 2011
This chapter seeks to examine how, if at all, France has tackled the challenge of reconciling freedom of religion with secularism, two values that may seem incompatible. It looks at the protection afforded to freedom of religion in the French constitution as well as the country’s core values of republicanism and secularism. It also considers the socio-political context leading to the adoption of both the 2004 law banning religious symbols at school and the most recent law which bans full face covers in the public sphere. This chapter attempts to provide an understanding of how both laws came to be seen as a necessity for the enforcement of the notion of laïcité, a cornerstone of French Republicanism and provides a starting point for the debate on whether those laws and more generally secularism are compatible with freedom of religion.
Keywords: Freedom of Religion, Secularism, France, Laicite
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