Log-book: December 2003

  Lacité and religious signs Spreading the Good News 
  Death and life after death?  An undue trial
  French Bibliography  Archives of Partenia 




The Bible

Special Edition

Laicité* and religious signs

The Federation of Associations for laicité (FAL) of Roubaix had invited me to intervene at the Roubaix City Hall. The Mayor, the Regional Director of the Department of Education, the Imam…should also intervene. The large conference room was packed with an audience mainly composed of school teachers. I saw three veiled women in the audience. Something to add spice to the debate!
For me, laicité presupposes that citizens are first men and women before being believers. One is not a believer before being a citizen. Belief comes after. To believe is a thought process done in liberty. This can be done only if one has the right to not do it.

voile Do the fundamentalists accept this possibility of being able not to believe? For them, does everybody have to be a believer? 

As for the unavoidable question of the veil*, I did not wish a law. The law is the last resort and exclusion (from a government-owned school, a note from the translator) is always a setback. But, apart the three veiled women, I felt everyone there was favourable to a law.






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Spreading the Good News
Bâle en Suisse This happened in Basle. After my speech a young woman stood up to tell her sufferings with her Church, the Roman Catholic Church. She was hurt. Her heart was filled with resentment and even hate. She was wondering if she would leave the church.  
In the meeting another young woman stood up, not to ask a question but to give her testimony. "I am a Muslim'' She started to say. In a soft tone, she showed how important it was to learn one's religion, to live of it and to discover what was at the heart of it. Then addressing the woman that was having difficulties with her church, she said: "Do not leave your church even if you are now suffering from it''. donner témoignage
She showed that everyone needed to know and loved one's religion to bring something to each other.
Everyone was listening with attention and admiration this Muslim woman whose words were opening a new understanding.
I was invited in a family's home that was the house of God.
This Muslim woman was also invited to share the bread and friendship for the joy of everyone.



Death and life after death?

There was a large crowd gathering at the point in the cemetery called '' The Jewish Quarter''. We were all there to attending the funeral of a man we all knew. When his spouse saw me, she came to me, kissed me and said: ''Jacques, Jacques, if only you knew how much I think of you in this moment! How lucky you are to believe!'' This woman whom I admired so much, is an atheist. For her, after death there is nothing. Absolutely nothing. She would like to believe but it is not possible for her!
I was standing next to her thinking of these words that Theresa of Infant Jesus was addressing to her sisters: ''I am not dying. I am entering into life".

après la mort People were marching along the open tomb and each one in silence was throwing a little bit of soil on the coffin. When it came to Abbe Pierre, he exclaimed: ''In hope of meeting again together some day''.  




An undue trial

Tariq Ramadan During a social forum, I had the pleasure of meeting with Tarig Ramadam again. Some 15 years ago, we were at the same debate together in Geneva and since, have become friends. Tarig is humanitarian and has many talents. He is a spiritual man. A known philosopher, he can be a formidable debater. He has the great quality of being able to talk to his brothers from the suburbs. He loves them as much as to give them the dignity they are not enough aware of. Because of him, they regain the pride of being full citizens. 

His impact is considerable. He has many enemies. He is today being accused of anti-Semitism.
A debate is being organized with him. Can one speak with the devil ? The devil is him. On the stage, he sits at the end of the table. The questions being directed to him are poisoned arrows. It is like being judged by the population. But Tarig keeps a dignified air and anyone can witness the peace inside him.
* A French word without equivalent in English. It means a strict separation between religions or religious organizations and symbols (for instance religious symbols like a cross or a veil worn by Muslim women or the Roman Catholic Church or even a prayer to God etc…) and Government or State organizations, funds or buildings (for instance a Court room, a City Hall, Armed Forces, State-owned schools or Universities, etc…). Established in 1905, it follows a long history in France of conflicts between religions, and between religion and government. All religious matters are considered as private matters of individuals, one of their fundamental rights with no interference from the Government or from any religion. The present concern comes from the recent arrival, a few decades ago, of Muslim immigrants in France who have not participated to the French, and even European, history of conflicts between religion and government. (Note from the translator).