The Laïcite basically is a form of secularism, which is the principle of separation of the state from any religious institution. While the roots of secularism go back to the French Revolution, others felt that their values needed to be protected.
France has their own version of secularism called Laïcité. This is where religious influence in the government is strongly discouraged, and vice versa. Instead, religion is seen as a part of a person’s private life.
When Did the Laïcité Start?
Secularism dates back to the French Revolution in 1789. During this time, enlightened thinkers felt that they needed to protect the values they held near and dear. By the 19th century, the battle between two versions of France was evident. The secular republicans were having difficulty in containing the Catholic Church.
By 1862, the so-called secular war turned into a battle of culture. School teachers that believed in secularism were nicknamed Black Hussars of the Republic. In 1946, the Laïcité was added to the French Constitution. Article 1 states that France is a secular republic. (Source: The Local France)
Did France Have Any Influence on Other Nations?
The short answer to this is yes. France’s movement to secularism did influence several Catholic nations. Mexico who the Catholic Church heavily runs is one of them. (Source: The Local France)
What Does Laïcité Actually Mean?
The term secularism has evolved over the years. Unfortunately, this means that there is no clear and concise meaning of the term. But the principle behind it still remains.
Because of the possible confusion behind the term, the French government sought to make sure that the public was well-informed. Therefore, a website dedicated to any questions people may have about secularism has been made. You can view the page here.
The lengthy articles on the site can be summarized to these core principles; state neutrality, respect for all beliefs, freedom to worship, and the absence of official worship.
This basically meant that secularism in France promotes freedom for each and every individual to believe in what they want and exercise their right as they please. They can freely do so without interference from the government. (Source: The Local France)
How Does the Government Practice Laïcité in Reality?
The state, in general, must remain neutral. Thus, any public official isn’t allowed to wear religious articles or openly show their religion. This meant they aren’t allowed to wear crosses, hijabs, kippahs, or any religious clothing at all. This rule also covers public institutions like schools, police departments, and the like.
This is where the problem arises. France allows the private practice of belief but has difficulty embracing the people’s right to apply their beliefs in daily life. You would think that this would be abolished in modern times, but in a recent update, France banned the use of the niqab in public places. (Source: The Local France)
Is Laïcité Misunderstood?
Due to modern times, secularism is most misunderstood. During a meeting of the La République en Marche, a French MP abruptly left the assembly because of the presence of a woman in a Hijab at the time. Saying it was unbearable and unbecoming of the values of the republic. (Source: The Local France)