issue 3 - Diversity in Europe & abroad

Rebekka Ehret , Bénédicte Halba (eds)

  • Publication : 2019
  • iriv

This third issue (November 2019) tackles the issue of interreligious dialogue with articles on diversity in Switzerland and France. This is especially important in secular countries where all religions have to be respected together with the right to be free from any religious belonging or belief. The secular approach may have been questioned in the past thirty years with the revival of extremisms both on a political and religious level. Religion has become part of private area thanks to the secular approach in order to enhance a strict separation of the Church and State. This “republican” approach has allowed a civil peace for the past century in most of our European societies (but during Second World War). The arrival of people coming from abroad with a stronger religious belief or practice may have questioned this republican secularism. The issue is when one religion presents itself as “main stream” and exclusive from other cultures or religions. Culture seems to be a pertinent approach to tackle the issue of religious diversity in our European societies often referred to as “post-modern” as religious practice has declined. Nevertheless the feeling of belonging may be sensitive if people from our religious background are attacked or persecuted. This is part of our identity. As reminded by special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights (Karima Bennoune, since 2015) the first report to the Human Rights Council, submitted in June 2010, underlined that there wasn’t any official definition of cultural rights. Therefore it was decided to investigate, in an exploratory manner, how best to distinguish which human rights may be considered cultural and to further define the content of these rights. In this perspective, cultural rights were meant to “protect the rights for each person, individually and in community with others, as well as groups of people, to develop and express their humanity, their world view and the meanings they give to their existence and their development through, inter alia, values, beliefs, convictions, languages, knowledge and the arts, institutions and ways of life.”(1) Religious diversity is also part of civil and political rights, and the “main” law (Constitutions) in European countries have meant to organise social life - the so-called “contrat social”. In this issue 3 of our newsletter, we have tried to present religious diversity in two perspectives. In Switzerland, two trends are at stake: secularisation and religious diversification and a public political discourse focussing on migrant religions (especially Islamic groups) and their capacity to accommodate to the institutional frameworks of the secular nation-state. For France, the article is more focused on the Republican principle of “laïcité” which has to be combined with the catholic ecumenical movement enhanced by Concile Vatican 2 (1962-1965) and the necessary respect and mutual understanding of non-Catholic religions, with a focus on the interreligious dialogue that had to be renewed with the Jewish community after the Shoah

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