Article copyThe ban on religious symbols seems to be well on the tracks to become a law, and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is so convinced of his rightness that he is biting his (rhetorical)
Everybody has the right to express his faith as long as he respects the laws of the Republic inside the Republic's schoolsAnd there it goes. The rhetorical tail that is.
To the extent of my humble knowledge, the very term "freedom of religion" is never used as such in the extensive amount of texts that constitute the laws of the Republic.
Yet it is indeed, as emphasized by our emphatic Prime, defined as a constitutional right, under the affirmation of the freedom of conscience and of freedom of cult (or worship), as early as in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man (Art. 10) and later in the first article of the (famous) 1905 law of separation of the church and the state:
For those of you who are zippier than the average French Prime, the conclusion is already obvious.
For the French Primes among you, more explanation might come in handy. So bear with me Jean-Pierre, here we go:
If, as you put it, everybody has the right to express his faith and if, as we just saw, the said expression of one's faith is indeed a right acknowledged and defended by the laws of the Republic, then expressing one's faith inside the Republic's school can't be considered as a lack of respect for the laws of the Republic, for it is indeed nothing but the expression of a right enshrined in the, well... Laws of the Republic, precisely.
Got it Jean-Pierre?
Unless I'm proven wrong, the purpose of the law enacting the separation of the church and the state is not to prevent the citizens from expressing their faith within the Republic, but on the very contrary to ensure that the Republic herself will not favor one cult over the others and infringe the rights of the citizens to choose and express their religion - or lack of - freely.
Ironically enough, as far as the Muslim headscarf and "militant" Islam are concerned, I guess there was enough in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and in the 1905 law to deal with the problem, without trampling on individual's right.
Article 31 already plan for fines or prison for those who:
(...) either by violence or menace against any individual, either by threatening him with the loss of his job or damages to his person, his family or his wealth, had him determined to exert or abstain from exerting a cult, to belong or cease to belong to a cult, to contribute or cease to contribute to the expenses of a cultBigots will always be bigots, and one hundred years later, this article seems to be written specifically to protect Muslim women who refuse the veil, and the Muslims of any gender who want to convert to another faith, or simply relinquish their religion.
Yet here comes the juicy part, where I would side with Mr. Raffarin's Vision Of Secularity, if only he was enforcing the law instead of wielding his (rhetorical) tail.
If a harangue pronounced or a writing displayed or distributed in the places where the cult is exerted, contains a direct provocation to resist the execution of laws or the legal acts of the public authority, or if it tends towards the uprising or arming of a part of the citizens against the others, the minister of the cult guilty of it will be punished with a prison sentence of three months up to three years, without prejudice of the collusion sentence, if sedition, insurrection or civil war results from the provocation.All right. I shall therefore officially call upon the French Power-That-Be:
What the hell are you waiting for to start cleaning the cesspool?