Scott Martens provides essential commentary on yesterday’s vote in the French national assembly. More from the Normblog here; and readers with access to an academic library might want to dig out Cécile Laborde, “On Republican Toleration”, Constellations, vol.9, no.2, June 2002, pp.167-183, which does as good a job as anything I’ve read of explaining what’s going on in the politics of headscarves in language that we Anglophone liberal types can understand.
Scott also raises the question — also posed to me yesterday by my friend Naunihal (an occasional commenter at the Virtual Stoa), who is rightly concerned about the impact of the new law on French Sikhs — about whether either the Conseil d’État in Paris or the court in Strasbourg would strike down the new law. I don’t know anything about the former, and not much about the latter, but I’d be very surprised if it did: Articles 10 (freedom of thought and conscience), 11 (freedom of expression), 14 (right of education), 21 (non-discrimination) and 22 (cultural diversity) would be in play here, but given the way they’re phrased, and the characteristic get-out clauses which allow the court to defer to national politics, I strongly suspect that the impeccable drafting skills of French government lawyers will manage to produce a law which Strasbourg will have to swallow. It’s just a hunch, though I’d be interested if anyone has a knowledgeable opinion to replace this rather random guesswork.
Finally: a query suggested by something Naunihal said: is it the case that French “secular” schools are careful to observe Christian holidays? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?