News / Europe

French Conservatives to Debate Role of Religion, Secularity

UMP right wing party general secretary Jean-Francois Cope gives a press conference at the party headquarters in Paris on March 30, 2011.
UMP right wing party general secretary Jean-Francois Cope gives a press conference at the party headquarters in Paris on March 30, 2011.
Lisa Bryant

France's ruling party is holding a debate Tuesday on the role of religion and secularity in France. The title may seem harmless enough, but it has sparked enormous controversy - with top religious leaders coming out against it.

France's ruling UMP party is calling it a debate on religion and secularity. But many people here see it as a debate about Islam - a debate that has deeply divided this country even before it began.

Even French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has kept his distance, letting it be know he would not attend the Tuesday  roundtable in Paris.

Speaking to supporters in the southern city of Marseille on Saturday, UMP Secretary General Jean Francois Cope - who is in charge of this debate - cast it as an effort to give an intellectual and philosophic dimension to the issue.

Cope said the roundtable would include proposals on establishing a code of secularity and religious freedom. Rules on secularity must be respected, he said - rules in classrooms, in sports, in hospitals.

But critics argue it simply adds to already existing tensions over Islam, France's second largest religion. In a joint statement last week, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Orthodox, Jewish and Buddhist leaders said the debate would simply add confusion to an already troubled period France was traversing.

And members of the political opposition say the debate is a thinly veiled attempt by the center-right party of President Nicolas Sarkozy to woo the far right, a year before presidential elections.

In a recent interview with France-Info radio, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, a member of the leading opposition Socialist Party, said everything was wrong about the secularity debate. He said it bolstered the cause of the far-right National Front party, which scored well in recent local elections.

The debate is also sensitive because it comes just a week before a French ban against face-covering Muslim veil - and other garments hiding the face - goes into effect.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid