I understand the point raised in this article (Muslims are already excluded from French political life: this is the real problem in the dispute over the school abayas, on September 5), but I have the impression that it does not tell not all. Secularism is historically a pillar of the French school system.
Since 1880, teachers have been prohibited from displaying religious or political views in order to protect students’ right to their own opinions without undue influence. Priests are forbidden to have any influence in schools. Students are not allowed to influence other students and any religious or political signs are prohibited. For example, my mother was not allowed to have a crucifix necklace at school. This law was created to protect freedom of conscience. It was not created against Muslims.
If people wish to wear religious symbols or wear religious clothing, they have the choice of going to a private school. These are not expensive. I am not naive and I know that some political parties have racist programs. But not everyone who wants the law upheld is racist.
Nathalie Goursolas Bogren
Sallanches, Haute Savoie, France
After growing up in Italy, I moved to Germany for two years, then came to the UK for another four years and am now settled in France. Leaving Catholic Italy – and its ever-present ties to the Vatican – for secular France was a refreshing feeling.
But after all these years, I believe that Italy, Germany and the UK have developed a much healthier relationship to religion than France. They now know what religious segregation and state interference really mean and where they lead; and have developed antidotes, with great pragmatism. Angela Merkel belonged to the Christian party CDU; King Charles is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England; the Vatican and the Quirinale, residence of the Italian President, are three miles apart. However, students can wear their yarmulke, abaya or turban in Italian, British and German schools.
France declares itself secular and hopes to put an end to the problem of religious divisions. But using secularism as an umbrella while barely questioning what this word actually means, we are completely divided when it comes to different faiths.
Anti-Semitism (in 2012, three Jewish children and their teacher were killed in Toulouse, while Sarah Halimi was murdered in 2017 and Mireille Knoll in 2018), Islamist terrorism (the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015, the Nice attack in 2016, the murder of Samuel in 2020). Paty) and Islamophobic police behavior (Nahel Merzouk killed in 2023, Adama Traoré in 2016, Mohamed Benmouna in 2009) merge into a toxic cocktail – a cocktail whose effect is to forget what the true values of the Enlightenment were.
Filippo AE Nuccio
The starting point of this article, “Girls who wear the Abaya are not considered simply as students, but as emissaries of global Islamism conspiring against the French nation”, shows a misunderstanding of the French state. Since the revolution, France has embarked on the path of “one nation, one people”. It’s not about fear of a conspiracy; the French just want – rightly or wrongly, idealistic or not – a one-class nation where everyone shares the same values and can therefore be treated equally before the law. France is not about multiculturalism, but about assimilating immigrant cultures into a single French culture. Whether this is a realistic or even desirable aspiration is another argument.
Llandrindod Wells, Powys