Extreme Secularism vs. Religious Radicalism: The Case of the French Burkini
23 ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law (2017)
26 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 24, 2017
The French theory of Laïcité, or assertive secularism, has rapidly developed to become a significant part of the French constitutional legacy, which subsequently brought out what should have been expected: conflicts between the right to self-determination, local culture, religious freedom, and the state interest in curbing radicalism and extremism. This article analyzes these conflicts based on the decision of the Conseil d'État, which lifted the French ban on the burkini on August 26, 2016. This article discusses the two opposite ways one could read the decision: some could see it as shielding fundamental rights and freedoms, while others could see it as an obstacle in the way of protecting France against Islamic extremism. In doing so, the article aims to provide a critical analysis of the significance of the Laïcité policy on individual freedom and religious liberty by following the Conseil d'État, and the European Court of Human Rights, in regards to their ban of religious symbols and attires in France and different comparative jurisdictions.
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