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Is “laïcité” France’s religion and republican values its Bible?

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Is laicite Frances religion and republican values its Bible scaled

French history is complex and the current political situation regarding the so-called “separatism” bill is often misunderstood. But secularism or “laicite” today and the general scepticism of the French public towards religion, shouldn’t be analysed through the lens of The French Revolution but rather through the history of the church. In fact, before the French Revolution, the church, not only played a major religious role in society but also had a huge influence politically. The church was the advisor for the French monarchy, it was a major economic power, a prominent state actor and the first landowner of the country. 

The systematic abuse of power by the church favouring its own institution, over time created a specific French scepticism about religion. The French Revolution was the harbinger which brought the 1905 law, separating church and state, into reality. It was, in fact, the call for the abolition of church and bourgeoisie privileges and the enforcement of the right to recognize every French citizen’s opinion about religion (art. 11 of the Declaration of Human and Citizens Right).

This freedom of opinion was the beginning of a long process that led to laïcité. Today, the separation of church and state is very clear but where does the negative perception of Islam come from? Is it possible it has grown because of the visibility of the hijab, the burkini or the headscarf? History tells us this is not the case and that the answer lies in what happened in 1905.When the law separating church and state had been adopted, the question of the French colony Algeria, was raised. With a majority population of Muslims, was it possible to apply the same law to Algeria too? Although many Muslim clerics and politicians came out in support, the French government always refused to consider the option of applying laïcité to French Algeria.

But why was this political decision taken at that time? Well, if the government had separated the mosques in Algeria from the state, the control and intelligence techniques which the French government used to maintain political stability, would have been jeopardized. In fact, the government had a compelling interest in preserving the status quo because it was integral to its control and dominion over the colony and a way to silence any movement calling for the independence of Algeria. Even today, laïcité is not applicable as a principle in many French territories and the best example of this is the east African island of Mayotte . Surprisingly, a parliamentarian of Mayotte actually wears the headscarf, and all because Mayotte waived the application of the 1905 law due to local customs and practices! 

Therefore, when France calls itself a “République universelle”, many commentators argue that this ‘universal’ concept clearly doesn’t apply beyond France’s borders. This peculiarly universal conception of secularism appears diametrically opposed to the multicultural conception of secularism. France calls for an assimilation policy – imposed on everyone to follow the “French way of living” – whereas common law countries plead for a community-based model. Both models have their pros and cons but, ultimately, the latter is much more pragmatic and realistic. 

So, with all this in mind we turn now to the education system which has long been a battleground for politicians. The argument goes that in order for kids to forge their own “mentality” and “way of thinking”, they need to be free of any parental opinion. Therefore, it’s necessary to strongly oppose any religious curriculum within the “secular republic” of France. But, however noble the intention, the reality is vastly different. Every student has a background, a culture, their parents’ education which clearly shapes them and how they think and act in the world – this cannot be ignored. Asking students to forget everything they know and to effectively erase their background and identities is virtually impossible. And imagine, even if all this were possible, the Republic would still need to provide teachings deemed as “secular” but in actual fact would likely become the state religion. 

Laïcité in France has always had the same meaning – although amazingly this term has not been used once in the 1905 law – the separation of church and state. The Supreme Court even mentions the only two obligations stemming from this and they are only imposed on the state (not on the Citizens): (i) to not entangle or interfere in the freedom of religion and (ii) to recognize freedom of conscience. The present application of laïcité in France is, in reality, everything but laïcité

Those in the media and other influential thinkers started presenting secularism as a way of clothing, a way of behaving in society and a very particular way of being “neutral”. These so-called intellectuals state that laïcité is a mandatory obligation of being “neutral” i.e. not wearing any religious attire that distinguishes oneself from any other individual in French society. 

The question remains – who decides what is “neutral”? As an example, there’s a very famous French philosopher, Bernard HenrI-Levy, who likes to appear on TV with a very specific type of shirt that allows him to have a very singular collar. Anyone can argue that because they don’t like that style or it’s not to their taste, it’s not really “neutral” and therefore not really laicite. This flawed reasoning is in fact the one being used, conversely against the headscarf.The truth is, laïcité should mean that everybody is entitled to exist within French society as they are, and nobody has the right to claim that they are in violation of the 1905 law. This is why the argument that the burkini is against French values or against the 1905 law is absurd and divorced from the sociological and the legal reality in France. The noble idea of laïcité is now being used and abused and being presented almost as a state religion with religious values side-lined or being represented as conservative values. This evolution is wrong because it completely disregards the exact reason for which the French Revolution started in the first place – the possibility, for every French citizen, to be entitled to his or her opinions.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Daily Brief

Cancelling Canada Day: A Country Perpetuating Injustice Cannot be Celebrated

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Canada Day is celebrated every July 1st, but as the injustices against Indigenous people in the country become mainstream, calls to cancel the celebrations are amplified.

With fireworks and large festivals, Canada Day is celebrated from coast to coast on July 1st by millions of people, every year. The day, for many Canadians, is one of joy and gratitude, for the home that Canada has become for them. 

However, following the discovery of mass graves at the site of former Residential Schools, celebrating Canada Day is becoming confusing for many. 

Residential schools, among other historical policies, made essentially to assimilate Indigenous peoples and erase their culture, are one of the causes of deeply rooted intergenerational trauma and disproportionate access to resources in Indigenous communities.

Canada Day, which marks the day of confederation and the day that Canada became its own nation also marks the day that the oppression of Indigenous peoples was taken into Canada’s own hands. Calls to ‘cancel Canada Day’ become louder each year, as the injustices which were perpetuated to help bring the country to where it is today become more widely known.

Canada, the “true, north, strong and free”, as described in the country’s national anthem, was established at the price of the lives, autonomy and rights of hundreds of thousands of Indigenous peoples.

Canada recognizes its Indigenous population broadly as the FNMI — which stands for the First Nations, the Métis and the Inuit. All three Indigenous nations were directly impacted during colonization, through forced relocations, harmful policies, and cultural genocides.

The Indian Act following confederation was a legal document which specifically prevented the First Nations people in Canada from many things, including cultural practices, political actions and restricted their freedom. Under this act, First Nations could not leave reserves that the government forced them onto, without explicit permission from an Indian Agent first. The RCMP – the Royal Canadian Mounted Police known today as Canada’s FBI – was made with the intention to force and keep Indigenous peoples on their reserves.

First Nations and Métis were also predominantly affected by residential schools and the sixties scoop, when Indigenous children were taken from their homes and given up for adoption. Both of these efforts were made with the goal of assimilating Indigenous children, by “killing the Indian in the child“.

The Inuit faced dehumanization with their forced relocation into the High Arctic, a land they were not traditionally accustomed to. They were used as human flagpoles in the race to claim the Arctic, giving Canada a land advantage over countries like Russia and the United States.

For the sake of Canada’s growth as a Western nation, Indigenous peoples were used as pawns. First Nations and Métis were forced onto reserves to make space for European settlers, while the government commissioned a mass Inuit dog slaughter, to keep the Inuit stranded in the High Arctic, so that Canada could not lose their claim over that land.

The birth of a nation had become more important than the lives of Indigenous peoples who have existed since time immemorial. And because of that, Canada was born with blood on its hands — blood it has yet to wash off in full, as the country’s growth continues to be more important than respecting Indigenous peoples who’ve lived there for centuries.

The Canadian government has a long-standing history of making promises to the Indigenous community and then turning their back on them — whether that means refusing to turn their words into action or taking action that has the opposite impact.

Indigenous peoples in Canada have been long subject to unjust conditions: many communities lack access to clean water. The government has acknowledged this; however, it hasn’t done much beyond that to actually improve living standards on reserves. Indigenous peoples are subject to disproportionate rates of police brutality and violence, especially in the North. Despite multiple reports recording the numbers, institutions are not doing much to change their practices.

Most prominently, the pipeline debate has shown how the government is willing to backtrack on their promises to Indigenous peoples to protect their rights, if it results in a growth for the country. Although Justin Trudeau ran a campaign in 2016 heavily opposing the Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain pipelines, in 2019 his government bought the pipelines to take over the project and continue it, despite protests from Indigenous peoples pleading otherwise.

Time and time again, Indigenous communities in Canada seem to be living in an entirely different country; the “true, north, strong and free,” seems more like a betraying, oppressive and unjust nation. Their rights are considered dispensable in favour of material growth, and in society, they face stereotypes that lessen their quality of life.

The question: to celebrate or to not celebrate, might seem like a hard one when Canada Day is meant to be a day where Canadians rejoice for all that the country is to them. But the answer is quite straightforward, when it is the suffering of people caused by Canada in question.

For many — those born in Canada, those who immigrated here, and those seeking refuge here — there is much to be grateful for, on Canada Day. But showing gratitude for living in a country such as Canada and acknowledging the injustices it participates in are not mutually exclusive attitudes.

Sol Mamakwa, an Indigenous MPP for Kiiwetinoong, an electoral riding in Ontario, stated in a message for Canada Day, “It is my hope that Canadians will be able to strike a balance between honouring all that Canada has done for them today while still recognizing the real history of oppression, colonialism and genocide.”

Even if most Canadians do not experience the struggles of Indigenous peoples firsthand, these struggles still affect the very fabric of Canada. The country is only as great as it treats its Indigenous peoples, whose losses the country was built upon. And every single Canadian plays a role in advocating for the better treatment of Indigenous peoples.

To celebrate Canada Day, we must want better for the people who have lost everything for it, but we also must mourn with them for all the loss they have had to face. 

Canada Day should become a holiday more meaningful than fireworks and festivals: it needs to become a day of reflection. We must cancel Canada Day’s insensitive celebrations, by understanding the context of it, because injustice simply isn’t something you can celebrate.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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Human Rights

Rwanda: How does the UK’s immigration policy compare to others? 

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According to the new British immigration policy, asylum seekers will be sent to Rwanda. In exchange the British government will pay £120 million to Rwanda. This plan has received a lot of criticism by many and has been accused of being cruel and unethical. Other countries, such as Australia, Israel or Denmark also have similar plans regarding immigration. 

The new plan involves sending immigrants seeking asylum, 6400 kilometres away to Rwanda, instead of allowing them to apply for asylum in the UK. When having arrived in the Central African country, Rwandan immigration rules will apply to migrants, and they will not have the right to return to the UK. In case of a deportation, immigrants will either be sent to the first “safe” country, or they will be sent back to their country of origin.

Despite the current international outrage regarding this new deal, the UK isn’t the first country that Rwanda has signed such a deal with. 

In 2015 the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu introduced a similar policy, the “voluntary” deportation programme policy. This new policy gave rejected asylum seekers the opportunity to either return to their country of origin, accept a payment of $3500 and a plane ticket to an unnamed country, which were reportedly Rwanda or Uganda, or lastly, go to Israeli jail in the case that they stayed in Israel. 

Three years later, almost 30% of immigrants, that had entered Israel illegally, had left the country.  

Just like the UK, the voluntary deportation programme was heavily criticised. A report from 2015 by the International Refugee Rights Initiative said, “Contrary to the Israeli authorities’ rhetoric, departures from Israel are neither voluntary, nor do they ensure the safety of those leaving the country. While Israel presents Rwanda and Uganda as safe destinations, in reality they are often the starting point for a dangerous journey that not all asylum seekers survive.” 

In 2021, Denmark too passed legislation allowing refugees to be sent, having made similar deals with Rwanda, Tunisia and/or Ethiopia, in regard to achieve “zero” asylum seekers. Before that, talks about achieving zero asylum seekers had already been happening and were also announced by the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen in 2020.

According to Zachary Whyte, an Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, “The Danish plans involve an initial screening of asylum seekers for vulnerability, before they are transferred to a third world country, which could be Rwanda. Their asylum cases will be processed there. If they are recognised as refugees, they will be settled there. If not, their possible deportation will be the responsibility of that third country.” 

As of today, Denmark has been successful in achieving this goal: in 2020 only 1,547 people sought asylum in Denmark. Compared to previous years, this has been the lowest number registered. 

Unlike Denmark and Israel, Australia’s immigration policy consists of sending immigrants to pacific countries, to centers in Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Nauru. Australia has been using their “Pacific Solution” since 2001, making it one of the first countries to use offshore detention centers

Refugees entering Australia were either brought to Nauru or Papua New Guinea, where the processes of becoming permanent citizens started.

As of today the Republic of Nauru still houses 112 refugees, but centers in Papua New Guinea, which housed 120 refugees, were closed after the Papuan Supreme Court ruled the centers, ”illegal”. 

In March this year, another three-year deal was announced this time with New Zealand. According to the new deal 450 refugees will be sent to New Zealand. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

India playing the “All religions matter” card in the UN

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In a recent event that marked the first anniversary of the International Day of Countering Hate Speech, Ambassador Tirumurti from India urged the UN that fighting religiophobia should not be a “selective exercise” that involves only one or two religions but one that should be applied equally to phobias against non-Abrahamic religions as well. He had also addressed terrorism concerns that have been plaguing India due to the cross-border tensions that are on the rise.

It is ironic that such statements were made during an event whose sole purpose is to counter hate in a country where religiophobia against people practising Abrahamic religions is at an all-time high. Last week, India was in the news for all the wrong reasons due to comments made against the Prophet Muhammad (saw) by the official spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), one of India’s major political parties. Clashes erupted around the country in retaliation and houses that belonged to Muslim activists were bulldozed and razed to the ground simply because they had raised objections against the ruling party for the hateful comments made. Even though the cause for all that is happening in India is predominantly Islamaphobia, it is surprising how the religion of Islam was not mentioned anywhere in the list of Abrahamic religions given by Mr Tirumurti[1] . Leaving out the religion of Islam takes us back to the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and The National Register of Citizens (NRC) bill that was passed but not implemented yet required Muslims living in India to submit documents showing that they are indeed the citizens of India.

Mr Tirumurti also mentioned that India follows pluralism as it was recognised by the UAE and Egypt to promote fraternity on the International Day of Fraternity[2] . He defines Pluralism as “where every religion is respected, is a sine qua non of tolerance and harmony,”. However, what happened in India a few days prior is a stark contrast to the definition that he read out during the event.

“Till this is done, such international days will never achieve their objectives. There cannot be double standards on religiophobia,” stated the Ambassador. His remarks on how all religions must be treated equally to combat religiophobia are similar in nature to the “All Lives Matter” slogan created for the sole purpose of undermining the ‘Black Lives Matter movement. India needs to look back at itself to understand the definition of double standards as the country itself has become the epitome of the word by denying the extremist allegations while executing the same on minorities.[3] 

Regarding the statement given by Mr Tirumurti in the UN, Mahmooda, a Muslim citizen of India, living in Chennai said, “This is yet another flag of insignificance being pinned upon the Muslims”. This is a testament to the fact on how the government of India and the majority is still undermining and undervaluing the lives of Muslims who have made India their home for several decades now. 

“Fascism is always denied when it’s being perpetrated. Furthermore, there’s a convenient narrative orchestrated through different avenues to justify the hostility against the persecuted” remarked Aslam who is a 35 year old non-residential Indian living in the UAE.

Safura, a Muslim in her mid-20’s said that she understands that all religions must be considered equal in the religiophobia narrative and that “one cannot value one’s human life more than the other”, but it baffled her that Islam was left out of the conversation in an event that strives to fight against religiophobia despite the fact that Muslims are the most persecuted around the world. 

This makes us wonder if India believes that Muslims are the reason why religiophobia still exists and hence all the other religions must be saved from it? Unfortunately, the answer to this question can be provided by Mr Tirumurti alone.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Trump Knew His Supporters Were Armed in Jan. 6 Capitol Riots

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  • Former White House aid, Cassidy Hutchinson, stated that former US President Donald Trump was aware that rioters were armed on January 6th, 2021 when they stormed the US Capitol, but he did not want to stop them.
  • Hutchinson worked as a top advisor to Mr Trump’s chief of staff, and testified at a hearing to a select House committee that was in charge of investigating the Jan 6th riot at the US Capitol.
  • Hutchinson recounted how Mr. Trump said that rioters were “not here to hurt me” and that security should “let them in.” She also stated that he lunged at the driver of the limousine in a rage when he was told he could not be taken to the Capitol.
  • Mr Trump denied several parts of Hutchinson’s testimony, stating, “I didn’t want or request that we make room for people with guns to watch my speech.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

At Least 23 Migrants Dead in Attempt to Cross Morocco-Melilla Border 

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At least 23 migrants from Morocco died trying to cross the border with neighboring Melilla, one of Spain’s two autonomous cities, highlighting the desperate plight of many Africans.

Around 2,000 people attempted to make the crossing, resulting in a violent skirmish at the border on Friday (June 24). About 58 migrants and 140 border security officers were also injured, according to Morocco’s Interior Ministry. 

Crossing the border from Morocco into Melilla is one of the most accessible routes for Africans to enter Europe, since Melilla is located in North Africa but is also part of the European Union. Migrants seek increased opportunities and economic stability in Europe, as well as freedom from unsafe conditions in their home countries. 

Those trying to cross into Melilla could be injured at the border, forced to remain in Morocco, or sent back to their homes by Moroccan officials. 

Refugee advocacy and human rights groups have expressed serious concern at what they see as an excessive use of force against already vulnerable people at the Morocco-Melilla border.

“Although the migrants may have acted violently in their attempt to enter Melilla, when it comes to border control, not everything goes,” Esteban Beltran, the director of Amnesty International Spain, said in a statement. “The human rights of migrants and refugees must be respected and situations like that seen cannot happen again.”

Friday’s deadly incident at the border is likely to spur further tensions between Spain and Morocco.

In May 2021, over 10,000 people attempted to cross into Cueta, the second Spanish territory in North Africa. The mass migration shocked Spain and took place during a diplomatic standoff between the nations over Western Sahara, which has long sought independence from Morocco. 

Looking ahead, Spanish authorities could respond by increasing security measures at the border and obstruct many Africans from crossing. Morocco may then have to accommodate an influx of refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, and the country may limit immigrants too. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Russian Missile Sets Ukraine Shopping Center on Fire

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  • A busy shopping center in Ukraine was set on fire by Russian missiles on Monday, killing at least thirteen people and injuring dozens. The total number of casualties is still unknown.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that “The number of victims is impossible to imagine” and that there could have been up to 1,000 people in the mall.
  • The attack came during the G7 summit, where world leaders condemned recent atrocities and promised to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” in a joint statement. President Zelensky spoke to the leaders at the summit and stated that he wants the war to end before winter.
  • NATO has decided to increase the number of troops in its rapid reaction force from 40,000 to 300,000, more than eightfold. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated this move is part of the “biggest overhaul of collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War.”
  • The United States has announced that it will provide Ukraine with advanced medium and long-range air defense capabilities.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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