SECULARISM FRENCH STYLE
Director(s): Clarisse FELETIN – Writer(s): Clarisse FELETIN Contact Print page
In 1905, after the separation of Church and State in France, the law on secularism was adopted to pacify French society and to reaffirm freedom of conscience…the freedom to believe or not to believe, respecting the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. And it also established a strict separation between public institutions and religious organizations.
Today, secularism and the space of personal freedom it seeks to guarantee, represents a fine balancing act. At the Ministry of Education, following the assassination of history teacher Samuel Paty in October 2020, a " comité des sages " was set up to ensure respect for secularism in schools.
In the valley of Thann, a relatively quiet town in the Lower Rhine region, the Georges Walsch college faces challenging times. For the last two years, teachers have been coming under pressure from the local Turkish community. They receive notes from parents justifying that their children refuse participating in sporting activities, in particular the swimming pool, on “religious grounds”. The issue of secularism thus enters the classroom and is openly discussed between teachers and students. The film follows their daily life, recording testimonies of teachers and young college students during lessons, in the playground or in the pool.
The college council meets around the principal to discuss the question of “le vivre ensemble” – how to do live in respect of each other. And the pool issue comes back on the table.
Contacted by the principal of the college, the topic is also on the agenda of the meeting of the “Conseil des Sages”, a Council of Elders, the body charged by the Minister of National Education to deal with issues related to secularism. As the principal points out, “the application of secularism is a work in progress ».