Hey, my name is ‘Laïcité’, but you can call me Laicity or Secularity. In France, I was born in 1905. At first, my mission in life was to separate the State from the Church as the latter was so powerful it used to run the country.
My aim was to give people freedom of religion and conscience, prohibiting the imposing of a religion by the State. Thanks to me, French people could freely believe in any religion and practice it as they wanted.
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism … all religions could coexist in a single country, without any of them being more influential than the others. Or, at least, that is how it was and is supposed to be.
Unfortunately, nowadays, I feel like people do not know who I am anymore and what I am here for. I feel like people do not really understand me.
It seems like, in the mind of many, laicity is not for everyone. The government makes decisions without asking my opinion, progressively limiting people’s freedom.
Some people use my name to defend their ideas without taking in account the principle of freedom that comes with it. Some people use my name to attack one religion in particular: Islam.
How can we tell people that they are free to practice their religion when they are being criticized for dressing according to their beliefs?
How can a country claim to accept everyone regardless of their religious denomination, when we still see people being denied jobs or service for their beliefs?
How can one claim to act in my name when their words and actions are harming people of a specific religion?
Everyone tries to give their own interpretation of my name, when there is already a clear definition of it that should not be discussed.
So, I would like to tell you something: if you want to claim you are in favor of laicity, please keep in mind that it is not synonym for suppressing or hushing up religions, but rather accepting them all just the way they are.