Essay competition on French ban of (Sikh) articles of faith

We’ve occasionally, briefly discussed the current French ban in public schools on articles of faith. Recently, the Sikh Coalition invited high school students from all over the world to submit entries into their Diversity Essay Contest on “The Role of Freedom of Religion in the context of Contemporary Society.”

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Students were asked to take one of the following two sides on the French Parliaments ban on conspicuous “religious” articles of faith from public schools:

  • If you favor the ban: While engaging with issues faced by communities impacted by the ban, please discuss how Frances conception of secularism (lacit) can be used to shed light on the ban.

If you oppose the ban: What makes you oppose it? Please outline a strategy through which the international community may be mobilized to force France to repeal the ban.[link]

The first place winner was Casey Friedman, from Alameda, CA whose essay can be viewed here. An excerpt from this winning essay:

“Although Article 10 of the high-minded Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen states explicitly, No one should be disturbed on account of his opinions, even religious, and although the Constitution of the Fifth French Republic recognizes the Dclaration as fundamental law (La Dclaration), France today finds itself uncomfortably pulled in every possible direction by the forces of religion, popular will, secularism, and natural right.” [link]

This competition seems like a great way to engage youth both in and outside our community in a conversation on freedom of religion.


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