Algeria: Laws to Prevent ‘Alteration’ of Citizens’ Religious Convictions

Algiers – Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments Mohammed Eisa warned of sectarian efforts to break the religious principles of Algerian society, pointing out that the government is planning to issue new laws posing penalties on those who try to change Algerians’ religious convictions.

Speaking at a conference for religious Imams and religious guides, eastern Algeria, the minister said that the country was exposed to foreign ideas that created terrorism and provoked hatred among the people. Eissa was referring to the war during the 1990s where 150,000 people were killed inducing: extremists, security men, and civilians.

The minister reiterated that Algerian youths do not need to cross the border looking for new forms of religiosity other than the ones they inherited from their ancestors. He didn’t elaborate as to what he meant, but it is understood that he was referring to hundreds of young people who had been involved in extremist groups abroad and then returned to the country to perform their practices in society.

Through a scientific and pedagogic method, Algeria succeeded in overcoming this flux and discourse of hatred, especially against various sectarian movements aiming to divide the country, added the minister, in reference to Shi’ite sects chased by security services.

Since his appointment as Minister of Religious Affairs in 2014, Minister Eissa had repeatedly spoken of the authorities’ efforts to “protect local religious authority”.

He called upon Imams and teachers of Koranic education to adopt the approach of relying on local religious authority to immunize the country against all dangers.

Eissa stressed that the state is determined to legislate laws that “protect the doctrine, fight sectarianism, and punish those who seek to change the convictions of religious Algerians.”

The minister announced a new law will soon be issued to regulate mosques’ affairs.

Since 2008, according to the minister, all Imams finished their religious education programs and memorized the Qur’an because these measures are important to ensure moderate speech that could serve the country.

Eissa himself is in a war against al-Ahmadiyya sect and Shiaism in the country.

Recently, he told state radio that Algeria was “a target for Islamic trends that are different from our culture and religious values that we inherited from the predecessors” in reference to several new sects that are spreading in many mosques in the country.

The minister confirmed that Islam in Algeria is that of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and a moderate one that promotes coexistence with other sects and religions. He added that Islam in the country is not affected by ideologies or political exploitation.

Questions that could be an Outrage

Senator Dianne Feinstein owes a public apology to judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett, as during Barrett’s confirmation hearings last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feinstein, the California Democrat, insinuated an anti-Catholic stereotype that goes back at least 150 years in the US — that Catholics are unable to separate church and state.

If a Catholic senator had asked a Jewish nominee whether she would put Israel before the U.S., or if a white senator had asked a black nominee if she could be an objective judge given her background, liberals would be screaming bloody murder. Feinstein’s line of questioning, which was taken up by other committee Democrats, is no less an expression of prejudice.

The thrust of Feinstein’s questioning was that, as a believing Catholic, Barrett couldn’t be trusted to apply the Constitution and laws objectively should she be confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Feinstein repeatedly used a term with a long history as a dog whistle for anti-Catholicism in America: dogma. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein asserted. She went on: “Dogma and law are two different things. I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different.”

And the senator topped it off with a classic form of bias: the irrefutable imputation. “Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling?” she asked.

The word “dogma” that Feinstein deployed is specifically connected to the Protestant critique of Catholicism, and to its particularly nasty American version. A dogma is an article of faith laid down by an authority. One of the classic Protestant polemical attacks on Catholicism was the allegation that Catholics are obligated to believe what the church teaches them is incontrovertibly true, whereas Protestants are called on to form their own beliefs on the basis of individual faith and judgment.

Starting in the 1840s when Irish Catholic immigration to the U.S. increased sharply as a result of the Great Famine, American Protestants began to transpose this religious dispute into the realm of politics. Nativists argued that Catholics couldn’t be good citizens of a republic because they wouldn’t be able to form individual judgments about politics.

The shorthand version of this view asserted bluntly that Catholicism and democracy were incompatible — an argument that prefigures the contemporary view that Islam and democracy cannot coexist. Like the modern canard, this claim was supported by the observation that European democracy had begun in Protestant countries and, in the 19th century, had not yet spread to Catholic ones.

The low point of the bias came in 1876, when the Senate debated a proposed constitutional amendment that would have barred states from funding “sectarian” — i.e. Catholic — institutions. The amendment had been drummed up to create anti-Catholic bias in the upcoming presidential election. In the course of the debate, Republicans (then the anti-Catholic party) bashed the Catholic Church for opposing liberty of conscience, hinting that good Catholics could not be good Americans.

Sometimes the claim that Catholics couldn’t be good citizens was supplemented with the assertion that Catholics owed their allegiance to the pope, not to the Constitution. That argument was used effectively against Alfred E. Smith when he ran for president in 1928. It was tried again, albeit less successfully, against John F. Kennedy in 1960.

To be charitable, it’s entirely possible that Feinstein doesn’t know the details of this history of bias. But her suggestion that a Catholic would favor “dogma” over the Constitution comes directly out of that history. And ignorance is no excuse. When public figures try to excuse the invocation of anti-Semitic or racist stereotypes by saying they didn’t understand the implications, we tend not to be very forgiving.

Nor can Feinstein’s line of questioning be defended on the ground that Barrett once co-authored an article in which she suggested that, if a Catholic judge truly felt unable to reconcile her religious belief with the law, it might be proper for the judge to recuse herself from the case. The point of the article was that religious faith could not and must not trump constitutional faith. In other words, Barrett rejects the idea that religious dogma should affect legal judgment. In this she follows rather precisely the viewpoint of Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked. 1

What’s going on here politically is that Feinstein and other Democrats want to imply that the presence of Catholic justices is a threat to the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade. And they want to taint Barrett’s nomination so that she won’t be considered a potential Supreme Court pick in the future, as she likely would be if her appeals court nomination sailed through.

As a sociological matter, it’s of course fair to notice that the Supreme Court has five Catholics on it. And it’s fascinating to observe that Catholic intellectuals have become the vanguard of legal conservatism in recent decades.

But religious affiliation isn’t judicial destiny. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Catholic, cast historic votes to preserve the abortion right in in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and again in 2016 in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Another Catholic, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is the court’s most liberal member and a firm supporter of abortion rights. Justice William O. Brennan, one of the greatest liberal justices ever and a key actor in the development of abortion rights, was Catholic.

The solution here is for Feinstein to do what other public officials have done when they’ve expressed bias: She should acknowledge that her questions resonated with historic anti-Catholicism, retract them and apologize.


Experts: Saudi Arabia Wants to End Exploitation of Its Youth

Undated image of explosives seized by Saudi security forces

Riyadh– A number of terrorism experts and researchers described the Saudi security decisive measures against intelligent services as “historic measures” to stop the activity of any foreign parties targeting the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the experts revealed that such cells and groups had been operating for three decades serving foreign agendas.

A top official stated that recently, head of state security was able to monitor espionage activity of a group of people for foreign countries that aim at attacking the security and social stability of the kingdom.

The source assured that all the members, including Saudis and foreigners, had been apprehended and are under investigation.

Expert in Criminology and fighting terrorism Yusuf al-Rumaih declared that those members and many others like them had been trying to create strife for over 30 years, from the times of cassettes and brochures till the modern times of tweets and messages.

“They are the same people. Same methodology. Only the outer appearances changed. The same content and ideology but a different form,” he said.

Rumaih stated that those people use religion to access people’s minds, adding that: “as long as they can’t achieve their goals through secularism, liberalism, and socialism, they will try to approach people through religion to accept their project.”

Rumaihi went on to explain that people in our region will accept anything as long as it includes a religious side. He also added that they focus on mobilizing teenagers and kids, and thus it is time to cure the country of this disease.

Former security adviser at the Interior Ministry Saoud al-Msebeeh confirmed that King Abdulaziz suffered long from such members who misuse religion for political purposes. He explained that since the foundation of the Saudi kingdom, the King fought Muslim Brotherhood and other movements.

Msebeeh said that Prince Mohammed bin Naif had warned that Muslim Brotherhood is the source of troubles in the Arab Islamic World, adding that they controlled the education system and tried to brainwash young people, and sadly many Saudi scholars and university professors were fooled by their methods.

we witnessed their enthusiasm for the destruction of the Arab world and their methods in instigating hatred and strife, he added. They even misused the social media for their own purposes.

“They are encouraged and supported by foreign intelligence services such as the Iranian, Qatari, and Western services,” he reported.

Msebeeh revealed that the measures taken by Saudi security are an extension of the efforts of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques and Crown Prince. He added that Houthis were thwarted in Yemen which restored the dignity of the Islamic and Arab world.

He concluded that we are now before a historic stage and it is time to rectify the situation and put an end to all of those who offended the kingdom.

Sociological and Anthropological Conceptions of Modern Religious Movements


Rabat – Religion and socio-religious movements have been an area of study for western sociologists. Classical schools of sociology had adopted the epistemological approach of the traditional French enlightenment period that said that the religious phenomenon was just a social condition that will weaken in the world of modernity and liberalism. Consequently, scientific changes and the development of western and world societies will inevitably lead to the weakening of religion and its destruction.

The modern school however came to say the opposite, claiming that religion and religious movements are an integral part of the historic cultural process of modern societies, whether they are democracies or dictatorships.

Even though secular discussions pervaded modern life up until the 1960s, the philosophical debate over religion remained and it produced schools of criticism from within modernity. Schools of social science sought to produce new approaches that tackled religion and secularism and the ability of each to overcome the other. They also reexamined the social dialectics of religion after the 1980s with the emergence of the “public religion,” as penned by Jose Casanova, renowned scholar in sociology of religion.

Casanova said that the expansion of the scope of the religious phenomenon is not a historic coincidence. The return to religious discussions is complicated and places social sciences and modernity before a real challenge related to systematically rethinking the ties between religion and modernity, and more importantly the potential roles that religion may play in the general scope of modern societies, explained Casanova in “Public Religions in the Modern World”.

In this regard, we can say that when sociologist Emile Durkehim speaks of the historic process of secularism, he is pointing to the central role religion plays because it is a “central reflection of the entire social life.” The power of religion therefore lies in its ability to produce all that is essential in society. On this note, Durkheim maintains that the study of religion is concerned with revealing the main social essence of religion in public life.

The essence of society means reaching its “secular characteristics” and dealing with them in a rational scientific way. For Durkheim, religion is determined based on the distinction people make between what is holy and what is worldly. He here concludes that the truth of religion is not illusory and the religious test is the test of a firm social truth.

This idea is also found with sociologist Georg Simmel and Max Weber. Simmel spoke of the central piety linked to the idea of divinity.

French sociologist Raymond Boudon said that sociology is required to not take literal explanations of the pious person, but it should analyze this religious test by adhering to scientific principles.

We should pay attention that studying religion from an anthropological angle was subject to cognitive development and change because scholarly justifications and classical rationalization claims affected the anthropological operating method. This has left it to rely on narrow concepts and old assumptions that preceded World War II. After the war, this western scholarly field lived off the works of Durkheim, Weber and Sigmund Freud, which left it in a period of general stagnation, according to English anthropologist Clifford Geertz.

Durkehim and Weber predicted that traditional religion will be eroded in the modern world. This claim however was refuted by the sociological facts in the world where Christianity, Islam and other religions are widespread. It was even said that the 20th century was the century of religion.

Thomas Luckmann was among the first to criticize the claim of the erosion of religion. He instead proposed in his book, “The Invisible Religion”, the separation of secularism from its ideological roots. He however reached a conclusion that was refuted by the current Muslim, Christian and Buddhist reality when he said that religion will lose its traditional roles and eventually be marginalized.

This is the scholarly crisis that such studies have fallen into. It prompted Casanova, when speaking about the return of religion to the general spotlight, to call for adopting two scholarly approaches in such studies. The first calls for disregarding them because they are unscientific, which has become the general approach in the modern western social world. The second calls for reviewing the theory in a way that can respond to its critics and at the same time answer the questions that are asked by modern reality.

In line with the development of western sociological research on religion, sociologist Peter L. Berger said that people were wrong to believe that they are living in a secular world. With a few exceptions, he said, we are living in a purely religious one. This means that the previous works by historians and social scientists on the theory of secularism are wrong.

This conclusion leads us to deepen the discussion over the study of secularism and the nature of the separation between religion and politics among other issues.

*Khaled Yamout is a visiting political science professor at Mohammed V University.

From the Vatican to al-Azhar: Dialogue and Rationalism in Face of Terror and Extremism


Cairo – The visit of Pope Francis I to the Grand Azhar in Egypt over the weekend came at a time of raging extremism. The meeting between the pontiff and Sheikh al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed al-Tayyeb can be seen as a humanitarian confrontation against extremism.

The image of the two religious leaders meeting reminded observers of the times of ideologically motivated wars that were launched in the Middle Ages between the East and West and between Muslims and Christians.

The Pope’s visit to Egypt is reminiscent of that of Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Order of Friars Minor, who visited the country in 1219. He came to the land to preach peace and reject the Crusades that had pitted Christian against Muslim. He met with Sultan al-Kamil al-Ayyoubi in what was seen as one of the earliest meetings between the two religions.

Will Pope Francis’s modern day visit hold similar significance to the one 800 years ago?

We should recall French novelist Andre Marlaux, who once said: “The 21st century will be religious or it will not be at all.” There are some facts that we have to address to understand the major role clerics play in modern times.

There has been a marked difference in paths taken by religion in the East and West in the post-WWII era. In the West, religion took the back foot to modern technology, economy, capitalism and science. In the East, and for various reasons, a backwards way of thinking took over. This way of thought was bolstered by globalization and the fear of meeting the other.

Amid the emergence of the far right and the far left, the real purpose of religion appears to have been lost. It has instead been replaced with the banners of war and theories of confrontation.

Religion in its essence however allows man to grant his life meaning and a purpose from the time he is born to the time he dies. This concept of religion has started to gain ground. Will its true meaning be able to stand firmly against dark fundamentalism?

German thinker Heinz-Joachim Fischer said that religion can create a conviction born out of dialectic debates. Convictions, whether they are theoretical or practical, can be born of a person’s internal religious leanings. These convictions can give way to the will to live. This will was honed during the age of enlightenment and later during the scientific advances of the past two-and-a-half centuries.

Religions therefore begin to reemerge as strengths and convictions that birth and nurture personalities away from fundamentalism.

Pope Francis viewed his recent trip to Egypt as that of friendship and appreciation to the people of Egypt and the region. Friendship is the way to pure hearts that seek coexistence away from isolation and eliminating the other that extremists feed on, he added ahead of his visit.

We can say that the purpose of the pontiff’s visit differs from that of his predecessor 800 years ago. This should perhaps be a lesson to all of us Muslims in the East because the self-criticism that the Catholic Church had carried out in the past led it to produce advanced theses and visions that have been marked by all-encompassing humanitarianism.

The Islamic world is now pressed to follow in the footsteps of the enlightened Christians of the past.

The enlightenment of the Christians was no doubt met by some extremist voices of dissent from within, but the voices of modernity and moderation were able to overcome them in order to reach the real purpose of dialogue with the self and with the other.

Pope Francis’ visit came to defy the aims of those who bombed the churches in Tanta and Alexandria weeks earlier. He sought to defy the “forces of hatred” and the cancellation of the trip would have been a victory for the forces of evil.

The visit should serve as an opportunity to clear the dust off ties between East and West, especially between Islam and Christianity, and allow them to confront fundamentalism that is threatening to fatally cripple these ties and any prospect of reconciliation in the future.

The meetings between the world’s religious leaders are not required to produce jurisprudential and theological understandings, but they should agree that the future of the world hinges on different cultures and religious dialogue between them.

Top Religious Leaders Honor UK Terror Attack Victims, Urge Appeal for Peace

Britain’s senior faith leaders gathered near the country’s Parliament to mourn victims who had fallen to London’s recent Westminster terror attack. The religious leaders urged restraint and the appeal for peace in the face of such troubling times.

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli, representing Shia Muslims, and Sunni Sheikh Khalifa Ezzat, head Imam at the London Central Mosque, stood alongside the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Chief Rabbi Ephriam Mirvis, and Catholic Cardinal Vincent Nichols at the event, AP reported.

Al-Hilli expressed his condolences Friday for the four people killed and dozens wounded in the car and knife rampage on Wednesday, saying “we utterly condemn this terrorist act.”

Mirvis played on the theme of unity among people of faith, saying “Londoners are showing right now that we will always stand up with strength to confront terror and we will never be cowed by it.”

More so, Prince Charles has visited people injured in the London attack, meeting privately with victims at a hospital.

The heir to the British throne thanked staff at King’s College Hospital for their “marvelous efforts.” He shook hands with nurses, who took photos of him as he left the ward.

Charles said: “How you do it, I don’t know.” The hospital has treated eight victims.

U.S. Army Allows Turbans, Veils and Beards


Washington- Days after New York police announcement of allowing religious people to wear turbans and beards, the U.S. army issued a new list of regulations and rules. Among these updated regulations there is a rule similar to that of New York police – the new list allowed members of the U.S. army of women to wear veils if this was part of their religion duties.

Noticeably, this was not totally forbidden in the U.S. army before, but was given permission after considering every case individually. The army’s procedure was not an imitation to New York police but a result to filed lawsuits against the army since 2016 – Sikhs mainly stood behind these lawsuits.

Sikhism is an Indian sect that urges its followers to wear turbans and beards in a unique way.

Although Sikhs who are serving in the army were the main backers of this decision, yet the benefit of new regulations is not restricted to them only but extends to other religions including Muslims.

New regulations also give the head of the military unit the power to prohibit wearing beards, turbans or veils if this was to cause danger on the safety of the individual or his surrounding, a health or security danger.

Congressman Joe Crowley considered the U.S. army procedure as a huge victory – not only to Sikhs but also to the army as a whole with all its religions and sects.

“These are Americans who love their country and seek fair chances to serve along with other Americans – this new list by the army will help accomplish that,” he added.

Religion to Find its Way Back to Public Life!

Religion to Find its Way Back to Public Life!

The secular academic theories have represented an intellectual map for the modern western mind and still represent a significant trend in the political, social, and religious sciences and the modern socio-political sciences.

Different proposals discussing this context have maintained their theorist’s strength through a group of philosophers, intellects, and political scientists who focused on secularism and political path of the religion in societies. Marcel Gauchet is considered among the most prominent contemporary philosophers who defended the empowerment of the knowledge-based theorizing of secularism; he joined the “disenchantment of the world” theory created by Max Weber.

Gauchet’s interest in the political and religious beliefs and the relation between both of them was the reason behind his major in philosophy and history. He began his research at the Centre de Recherches Politiques Raymond Aron by defending the thesis “The Disenchantment of the World: A Political History of Religion” in a book he released in 1985 and many other books till 2013.

The French philosopher mainly discusses religion in the contemporary world and its creation and impact on the future and dynamics of the religion. He considers that the era of Western modernism, particularly the European modernism is the time of separation from religion. In fact, Gauchet sees that secularism has had a Christian origin as, according to him, modernism is not an ideology that emerged from political modernism and not cosmopolitan representations a philosopher isolated from the European reality and its community’s developments in the era of fundamentalist conflicts and the return of religion to the same Western entourage.

No separation with faith

Therefore, Gauchet sees that the “The Disenchantment of the World” thesis and the marginalization of religion indicate the separation from the religion itself and not the breach of faith in God. According to him, along with the religious reform, the modern politics has appeared and created the concept of modern state over a whole century, which shows how a religious and political path can completely change the facts of faith.

Fundamentalists…and the world

This historical path of religion and ideologies should not be understood as the defeat of religion in the contemporary reality. The religious belief still draw its path without losing its implicit status in social interactions in the time of modernism and secular individuality. This status was emphasized through the emergence of many religious fundamentalists that differs from the traditional religion.

However, Guachet considers that the return of religion to the community of individualism today serve fundamentalisms, which succeed in attracting the young generation stuck between the belonging to oneself and the belonging to the group. On the social level, this confusion can explain the attraction of the French youth toward terrorism under the patronage of ISIS and based on concepts like the “Caliphate” and “Jihad”.

Youth and Terrorism

Therefore, efforts should focus on eradicating the phenomenon of terrorism amid youth, and that can be achieved through supporting the individual so it can prove him in a complicated society of different interactions.

Opinion: Hijab, Niqab and the Burkini

What distinguishes the west from the rest of the world is its respect for the principle of freedom; it believes in it as a culture and commits to it in constitutions that governments and citizens adhere to. For this reason, France’s highest administrative court, the State Council, intervened and considered the ban on burkinis being worn on beaches in municipalities in the south of France illegal.

The burkini is a new outfit designed to allow Muslim women to spend time on beaches and swim in public places if they wish to do so. The burkini faces three contradictory stances; mayors reject it because it is Islamic, Islamic militants reject it because it is un-Islamic, and a few practicing Muslims approve of it.

The State Council, France’s highest administrative court, considered the case that was brought before it and judges said the ban on the burkini “has dealt a serious and clearly illegal blow to fundamental liberties such as the freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and personal liberty.”

It is possible to understand the problem of differences in cultures and bear in mind the growing fear and hatred that the local population feel. For example, Nice is one of the French coastal cities that banned the burkini, and we should remember that it was attacked by a man affiliated to ISIS who deliberately ran over more than eighty people in one of the most cruel, brutal and frightening attacks. In this frenzied atmosphere, it is natural that most French people said that they were against “Islamic” swimwear in a recent referendum.

There may not be more than a hundred Muslim women who want to wear the burkini and they would be part of the Muslim liberal minority. However, it reflects the state of the cultural clash and the increasing challenges faced by Muslims in the West with regards to the workplace, clothes and schools. This path of suffering was previously walked upon by Europe’s Jews who have co-existed and integrated into European Christian culture whilst keeping a part of their traditions without excessively differentiating themselves. Despite the moderate approach that the Jews of Europe took, this did not prevent the existence of hostile groups that are fuelled by religious hatred. However, they remained limited in countries that are ruled by law and where offenders are punished.

The freedom to practise one’s religion is a right that is protected by the constitution, and this is what makes Europe attractive to millions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even to Christians of other denominations that used to suffer from rejection and discrimination in the past. The west is the land of freedom, but it is only protected as long as it does not infringe on the freedoms of others, like extremists do. For example, Omar Abdel-Rahman was an extremist preacher who preoccupied the British media because he insulted British society and the system that took him in when he arrived as a refugee who was wanted and had been given a death sentence in Egypt.

The British police guarded him and his home from racist attacks for years. He was then extradited to the United States on charges of being involved with an Islamist group that was behind the bombings in New York in the nineties. Due to clothing, food and freedom of expression against religious symbols, the limits of freedom in Britain, France, Belgium and other countries have become a hotly debated topic that is being fuelled with the large number of Muslim refugees. In addition to this, terrorist operations are pouring oil on the fire of hatred against the majority of Muslims who are peaceful.

The municipal authorities that manage the beaches of Nice, Frejus and other areas are trying to flout the decision and forbid Islamic swimwear, whilst much of the French media praised the judicial decision and considered it a victory for freedom and the laws of France. However, the burkini is one item of clothing amongst many. A previous judicial decision banned the niqab and implementing the ban is still a big problem for the authorities. We must understand why the law bans the niqab and does not ban the hijab which only covers the hair. The niqab is banned because it covers the entire face and is therefore considered a threat to security at a time when streets and squares are filled with cameras and detectives who scrutinise faces in search of people who are wanted.

We must also notice the social changes that have occurred in the Muslim community in Europe. In the recent past, the vast majority ate, drank, dressed and studied like the rest of the population. However, militancy has entered into the community just as it previously spread in Muslim countries. Muslims in Europe want to distinguish themselves with halal meat, Islamic banking, private Islamic schools, the hijab and the burkini. All of these things are consistent with laws that protect individual freedoms. It would be difficult for the majority of Muslims in Europe to become militants and live isolated from communities whilst Islam itself facilitates their lives according to their circumstances, and there are many different interpretations of this.

Burkini and the Non-Religious Extremism

[Tim Wimborne/Reuters]

The case of Burkini has emerged in France after the decision to ban swimming suits worn by Muslim women in 30 municipalities in the country. This ban provoked a wide debate in France and in the worldwide media; it has also renewed arguments in Paris on secularism and religious freedom. The ban of burkini has been accompanied with frightening constraints imposed by policemen on Muslim women who visit beaches, where some were accused of bothering people.

Yet, France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, ruled a ban on the 26th of August against the restrictions issued by the municipalities on burkinis. The court also considered that this ban is a dangerous violation of public freedoms including personal and religious liberties.

While many of French educated people have considered that the court’s decision has saved the reputation of the French secularism and the state of personal freedom in it, others have considered it a new privilege for Muslims and a threat for the country’s secularism. Apparently, the court’s decision has opposed the public view in France amid a large spread of Islamophobia reflected through media, culture, administration, and some security agencies.

According to a survey implemented by the right-winged newspaper “Le Figaro” concerning the French people’s view on the Burkini matter, 76% have saw that the may threat the public system.

On the sociological and historical level, the tendency of the French society to exclude religion, particularly foreign ones like Islam, can be seen as a normal reaction because France is the country that has first founded the secular movement and applied it among its colonies.

Secularism requires neutrality with other religions and thoughts; however, in the French case, secularism is turning into a mean to destroy other people’s freedoms to secure the perfect neutrality. Social interactions have given politics an important role and significance; therefore, the ban of veil through a judicial or legal decision, as happened in Paris, has transformed the protection of secularism into a movement that violates human rights and into a new religion that compete the other spread religions.

Philosopher Guy Haarscher sees that the social path in France and Europe changes on the ethnic and religious levels, which asserts that these societies need to differ with the classic secularism; the secular origin has maintained its roots in the French community, which leads it sometimes toward a radical view against religion and its symbols, like the


Harscher adds that democratic countries don’t have a legal text that imposes a strict separation between the religion and the regime, given that there are ministries that sponsor the religious issue. The philosopher also notes that the French Secularism is not the only sample adopted in Europe and points to the Belgium sample that depends on a special pattern that secures the diversity of religions.

From his part, in his book “Religion in Democracy”, Marcel Gauchet sees that the world is standing in front of a significant transformation in the society-state relations; he considers that secularism bet on limiting religion in the people’s personal entourage, yet it has failed, which has urged the redefinition of secularism.

But would the French court’s decision on 26 August allow the change of the French secularism path and to change the law of 1905 to respond to the urgent changes in the French society? And would the French secularism succeed in protecting freedoms and rights in the era of Islamophobia and the worldwide spread terrorism?