Thursday, December 13, 2012

French Government To Emphasize Secularism, Combat Violent Religious Extremism

Reuters reported yesterday that President Francois Hollande's government in France will re-emphasize the policy of "laicite" (secularism) that they said was weakened under former President Nicolas Sarkozy. Hollande this week announced the creation of a new agency to track how the separation of church and state is implemented. The agency will also study ways to introduce classes on secular morality into the public schools.  At a conference on the official policy on secularism, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said that the government's goal is "to detect and understand when an opinion turns into a potentially violent and criminal excess. The objective is to identify when it's suitable to intervene to treat what has become a religious pathology."  The government is concerned both about radical Salafi Muslims recruiting disaffected young people, and about the far-right lay Catholic movement, Civitas. The Interior Minister said the government is ready to deport radical foreign-born imams and disband radical faith-based groups that could become violent.