Saturday, October 31

Secularism: what is contained in the proposed constitutional law examined on Monday

After the assassination of Samuel Paty, the Senate examines Monday a law proposal from the right in order to include in the Constitution the preeminence of the rules of the Republic.

It is a text prepared long before the beheading of the teacher Samuel Paty, who had recently shown his students caricatures of Mohammed, and whose homage is paid in many cities of France this Sunday. The Senate will consider Monday a Law proposition of the right on secularism, in order to include in the Constitution the preeminence of the rules of the Republic. Its examination comes two weeks after the speech of the President of the Republic on separatism.

Three tenors of the senatorial majority share the authorship of this constitutional bill tabled last February: Philippe Bas, former LR chairman of the Law Commission, Bruno Retailleau, leader of the Les Républicains group and Hervé Marseille, chairman of the centrist group.

“Weapons” in the face of communitarian claims

The first article of the text enshrines, in article 1 of the Constitution, the principle according to which “no individual or no group can take advantage of his origin or his religion to exempt himself from the common rule”. The second article of the text obliges political parties to respect the principles of secularism, with the objective of excluding communalist parties from the public funding provided for election candidates. This provision “would henceforth prevent a political formation from calling into question the constitutional principle of separation of Church and State”, according to the statement of text patterns.

“If we want to have a practical approach, it must first be constitutional,” explains Philippe Bas in an interview with AFP, granted before the attack on Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. “The common rule is not only the law, it is the internal regulations of the school or the company, or even that of the hospital” specifies one of the quaestors of the Senate.

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According to him, by inscribing “a clear principle” in the Constitution, the legislator would give decision-makers whoever they are – mayors, business leaders, doctors, school directors … – the “weapons” that make them today lacking in responding to communitarian demands on a daily basis: from time slots dedicated to women at the swimming pool to the refusal to be examined by a male doctor, including the halal menu in the canteen.

Final adoption subject to approval by referendum

“We must set limits, limits”, explained in February on Europe 1 Bruno Retailleau. “We know the secularism which is addressed to the State, the neutrality of the State. There is another secularism, which is addressed to the citizens: all must follow the same rule (…) I would like to say to our Muslim compatriots, those who practice a peaceful Islam perfectly compatible with the Republic, which they must not accept the amalgamation “, he continued. “For this, we must designate those who are radicalizing minds to create new jihadist vocations.”

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The adoption of the constitutional bill in the Senate, where the right has emerged strengthened from the last elections, is not in doubt, even if the left will oppose it. But the rest of his career is strewn with big pitfalls. It would have to be first voted in the same terms by the National Assembly, dominated by the presidential majority.

And that’s not all: the final adoption of a constitutional bill is also subject to its approval by referendum. As AFP points out, “so far, no proposal for a constitutional law submitted to the Senate has yet passed all the procedural stages leading to a constitutional revision.”

“Political ideology”

The government must also present on December 9 a bill against separatism that could be renamed “law strengthening secularism”. Emmanuel Macron unveiled its axes on October 2: obligation of education at school from three years old and not at home, obligation of reinforced neutrality in public services, possibility of dissolving associations for an attack on the dignity of the person or psychological or physical pressures. He also announced that he wanted to “free the Islam of France from foreign influences”, by training imams in France or even by encouraging mosques to come under the regime of the law of 1905, which further controls their funding.

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“Anything that can restore a balanced Islam is going in the right direction, but it is not from the outside that we will succeed in stabilizing it”, judge Philippe Bas to AFP, for whom “the central questions are not religious “. “Me, what interests me is to touch a political ideology which is a poison for our Republic”, he continues. “This ideology attacks our fundamental principles by misleading them.”

The existing sanctions “are not easy enough to use”, therefore “we must change the law”, advocated this Sunday the ex-LR president of Hauts-de-France Xavier Bertrand in Le Grand Jury RTL-Le Figaro-LCI. “This requires a modification of the Constitution on certain points”: it would thus be necessary by referendum “to consecrate the principle of secularism at the same level as equality, freedom, fraternity”. Eric Ciotti (LR) also suggested such a referendum in the JDD.

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