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Critical RepublicanismThe Hijab Controversy and Political Philosophy$
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Cécile Laborde

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199550210

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199550210.001.0001

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Tolerant Secularism and the Critique of Republican Neutrality

Tolerant Secularism and the Critique of Republican Neutrality

(p.56) CHAPTER 3 Tolerant Secularism and the Critique of Republican Neutrality
Critical Republicanism

Cécile Laborde (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 presents two versions of the critique of the secular argument for the ban on hijab in schools. The first challenges the official republican interpretation of laïcité as a doctrine of conscience: it endorses the broad aims of laïcité but argues that they are compatible with the wearing of religious signs by pupils. The second is sceptical of laïcité as a separation doctrine. It notes that, in practice, the French public sphere falls short of the secular ideal of separation. From this fact of non-neutrality of the public sphere, it deduces a norm of even-handed recognition of all religious groups—including Muslims—by the state. Tolerant republicans—or laïcité ouverte advocates—seek to extend historically granted privileges to more recently established minorities, in the name of fairness.

Keywords:   laïcité ouverte, religious signs, neutrality of the public sphere, recognition, even-handedness

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