Monday, December 22, 2008
French Laicite & Cultural Identity
I've got a guest post op-ed over at Art Goldhammer's site, French Politics:
PARIS -- Two weeks ago, one of my seven-year-old son’s classmates arrived at school with pastries to pass out to the class. His mother, a non-observant “cultural Muslim,” had spent the weekend preparing the delicacies that traditionally accompany the celebration of Eid al-Adha, as a way for her son to share the cultural tradition with his friends. But when he asked for permission to hand them out, the teacher refused. The pastries, it seems, would have violated France’s strict code of laïcité forbidding among other things, the introduction of religious dress or symbolism into the public school system. . . .
[I]t would be easy to chalk the pastry incident off to an overzealous defense of a principle that, for cultural reasons, Americans have difficulty appreciating.
Except for one detail. . . .
Click through for the rest, and let me know what you think.