chapter  8
Is religious illiteracy a private or a public issue?
WithVincente Fortier
Pages 9

The 2010 Act concerning the ban of face-covering makes the public arena an extension of the private space. French laicite consists in three principles: state neutrality, freedom of religion and respect of pluralism, according to the definition provided by the State Council in its Rapport public. The European Court of Human Rights regularly reminds us of how important the stakes linked to the respect of freedom of thought, conscience and religion are in a society which is characterised by a plurality of opinions and confessions. As Jean-Louis Bianco, the president of the Observatoire de la laicite, asserts, laïcité has become a portmanteau word, and it is an absolute necessity to distinguish what is public security, issues of integration and the separation of church and state. Civil servants must be neutral during the exercise of their functions but not in their private life.