“Islamist attacks against secularism are intensifying”

“Islamist attacks against secularism are intensifying”

Twenty years after the 2004 law, what remains, not of this law but of the objections that were made to it? Not much, actually. Was it not going to exclude from the school system many young Muslim women, who nevertheless really need to emancipate themselves through knowledge? Well no: a very small number of girls left their school, and those who did were able to follow distance learning. There was therefore, far from it, no significant drop out of school. A survey by economist Éric Maurin on Muslim students even showed that unveiled girls generally obtained better academic results than veiled girls and boys.

Would this law have been “liberticidal”? But one must have a very individualist conception of freedom not to see that individual freedom to affirm one’s religion in all places is a license given to fundamentalists who make wearing the veil the sign of being a “good Muslim.” stigmatizing all those who refuse to comply with the injunction of orthopraxy and the community pressures that go with it – that is to say the opposite of freedom. An absolutized freedom is a freedom subject to the law of the strongest – the famous “free fox in the free henhouse” according to Marx.

And one must not have understood the notion of secularism to believe that it would be an obstacle to religious practice: it is only the suspension of religious affiliations in the civic context, allowing this “secular breathing” dear to the philosopher Catherine Kintzler, condition of freedom of conscience and civic fraternity. Moreover, this law was experienced as a liberation by many Muslims: despite initial opposition, it is today the subject of a broad consensus.

An anti-feminist law?

Would this law be anti-feminist because it is contrary to the freedom of women to dress as they wish? But how can we not see that it is the ostensible display of adherence to a fundamentalist form of religion which is contrary to feminism, when the religion in question explicitly advocates inequality between men and women, the submission of the wife to the husband, the obligation of intra-community marriage and the injunction made to women to bear responsibility for the desire they arouse in men? The veil normalizes a fundamentalism which is far from being shared by all Muslims, and weakens those who do not wish to make their religion a standard.

This law would be unequal because it is not “inclusive” enough towards Muslims? But the vast majority of them know how to integrate without claiming that religious law is, in France, superior to republican law. In France, belonging to a minority confers no rights, contrary to what communitarianism advocates. Including newly arrived populations means encouraging them to integrate, not locking them into their particularities.

The influence of the Muslim Brotherhood

The law displeases some and pushes them to transgress it: so what? Sanctions are there to enforce it. And it is clear that the succession, over the past twenty years, of problems linked to Islamic clothing (burqa, burkini, abaya, kami, etc.) is an indication not of a defect in the law but of an intensification of Islamist attacks against secularism. All the more reason to apply it more firmly rather than questioning it.

This law, it is still claimed on the side of the radical left, would be part of a “State Islamophobia”, according to terminology invented by the Muslim Brotherhood to disqualify any criticism of Islamism. It would therefore be “racist” or, in any case, reactionary. But what idiots will we make believe that a religion is a “race”? And that the values ​​of universalism, equal rights and freedom of conscience which underlie secularism are right-wing values, whereas they have deeply marked the entire history of the left?

The only problem ultimately with this law is its incomprehension by a part of the youth, either indoctrinated by Islamism or obsessed with the absolutization of individual freedom. Since 2004, threats to secularism have continued to increase, including through the most barbaric terrorism: all the more reason to strengthen and enforce our laws, which protect us all, believers and atheists!

(1) Author, with Jean Baubérot, of Tears in secularismMialet-Barrault, 2023, 176 p., €12.

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