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Laïcité: the six religions disapprove of the debate

Translated Sunday 3 April 2011, by Rebecca Watson and reviewed by Henry Crapo

While the ruling party tears itself apart over the debate on laïcité, or the concept of a secular society, the representatives of the six big religions in France, brought together for the Conference for Religious Leaders in France (CRCF), are distancing themselves from the controversial debate on secularity, hoped for by the Elysée, in an opinion piece published in La Croix on Wednesday.

Written ‘without any polemical or partisan spirit’, Catholics (His Eminence André Vingt-Trois), Protestants (minister Claude Baty), Orthodox Christians (Métropolite Emmanuel), Muslims (president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui), Jews (Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim) and Buddhists (reverend Olivier Wang-Genh) underline that ‘laïcité is one of the pillars of our shared republican values, one of the supports of our democracy, one of the foundations of our desire to live together’.

Let’s be watchful that we don’t squander this precious achievement’, they warn, saying that ‘it is paramount, during this pre-electoral period, to keep a steady course by avoiding generalisations and the risk of stigmatisation’.

‘Debate is always a sign of health and vitality. (…) But is it right for a political party, were it to have the majority, to lead the debate alone?’, they ask.

Further reading:

“To say that the Republic is secular means that it is linked to the entirety of its people and not just to the part that believe in God. To say that the republic concerns itself with social issues means that it must play its role in terms of public services and social rights.”

- Read the interview with philosopher Henri Pena-Ruiz (French language article)

- Why Nicolas Sarkozy must not be allowed to appropriate the debate on religion? (French language article)

- The UMP likes to encourage ‘Islamaconfusion’ (French language article)

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