Tuesday, September 10, 2013

France Puts Secular Charter in All State Schools; Ed Minister: It Promotes "Freedom of Conscience"

French Education Minister Vincent Peillon has unveiled the controversial secularism charter which is to be displayed in a prominent position in every school to remind pupils and teachers of the country's secular, Republican principles, the Europe News website reports today (September 10, 2013).

The Minister says the charter is designed to promote "absolute respect for freedom of conscience." The charter's 15 principles have been much discussed and have already been condemned as "an attack on Islam."

On September 8, Peillon told the Journal du Dimanche (Sunday Newspaper) that: "The first article of our constitution states that the Republic is indivisible, democratic, social, and secular. The school must teach these values, explain their meanings and their history. Because if we do not teach them, we should not be surprised if they are misunderstood or even ignored," he said.

The Minister rejected accusations that the charter was a veiled attack on Islam. Abdallah Zekri -- president of the Observatory of Islamophobia -- said he felt "targeted" by the charter. "This charter was supposedly made to combat communitarianism... But honestly, I feel targeted because now when anyone talks about 'communitarianism,' they're really talking about Muslims," he said.

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