October 22, 2004

Enforcing strict secularism in France.

The NYT reports:
To enforce its new law banning religious symbols from public schools, the Ministry of National Education has decided to get tough.

This week it held formal disciplinary hearings and began expelling students who violated the law. The goal was to get rid of those defined as hopeless cases before the 10-day All Saints school vacation that ends with a national holiday honoring all of Catholicism's saints.
The classic problem with secularism is the way the majority doesn't notice or care how much it accommodates itself.

Go to the link to see the photograph of the teenaged girl who is shaving her head bald so that she can stay in school. She "showed up for school in Strasbourg wearing a large beret [and was] barred from class by an administrator who called it a religious symbol." What seems to Americans to be a symbol of France, a beret, was construed by a French petty official to be an Islamic veil. Isn't the shaved head on a young girl a much more conspicuous outward demonstration of religious faith?
"They drove me crazy and tried to brainwash me so much that I got fed up and I did it - I shaved my hair off," she said. "Now I feel alone; I feel like a monster. It's like being naked on the street."
The French are pleased at how many young people they have pressured into compliance. Note that the those who will not yield are essentially forced into home schooling, because there is only one Muslim high school in France.

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