Global Affairs: Secularism v faith in France

The authorities' response to the beheading of a teacher over controversial cartoons does not address deep-rooted questions about national values and its Muslim-minority community

ST ILLUSTRATION: MANNY FRANCISCO

LONDON • How do you uphold the values of an open society? By making sure you do not offend anyone or instead, by tolerating anyone who may offend you?

The answer is never easy. Still, this is precisely the question the teachers of France will have to grapple with a week from today, as a new French school year begins. For they will have to stand in assemblies and before their classrooms to explain the lessons which can be drawn from a horrible crime which has shocked the entire French nation: the beheading of a teacher who showed controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils during a regular class about their civic duties.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2020, with the headline 'Secularism v faith in France'. Print Edition | Subscribe