Tolerant Secularism and the Critique of Republican Neutrality

Cécile Laborde

in Critical Republicanism

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199550210
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720857 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

Tolerant Secularism and the Critique of Republican Neutrality

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Chapter 3 presents two versions of the critique of the secular argument for the ban on hijab in schools. The first challenges the official republican interpretation of laïcité as a doctrine of conscience: it endorses the broad aims of laïcité but argues that they are compatible with the wearing of religious signs by pupils. The second is sceptical of laïcité as a separation doctrine. It notes that, in practice, the French public sphere falls short of the secular ideal of separation. From this fact of non-neutrality of the public sphere, it deduces a norm of even-handed recognition of all religious groups—including Muslims—by the state. Tolerant republicans—or laïcité ouverte advocates—seek to extend historically granted privileges to more recently established minorities, in the name of fairness.

Keywords: laïcité ouverte; religious signs; neutrality of the public sphere; recognition; even-handedness

Chapter.  10179 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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