Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fillon Will Meet Grand Rabbi

François Fillon, having waded neck deep into the burning meat issue, will meet with the Grand Rabbi, who is not happy about his remarks about "ancestral traditions":
Le Premier ministre, "qui a toujours entretenu un dialogue régulier avec les autorités religieuses", recevra le grand rabbin de France et Joël Mergui pour "parler directement avec eux" de ces propos, a ajouté son entourage. Gilles Bernheim s'est dit "très gêné" par les déclarations tenues lundi sur Europe 1 par François Fillon.
The rabbi's statement:
"Peut-être y a-t-il une atteinte à la religion et une atteinte aux principes de la laïcité ?" a ajouté le grand rabbin, se disant "très gêné" de ces propos en pleine campagne présidentielle. "Par rapport à l'esprit de la laïcité, je ne pense pas que quelque homme politique que ce soit puisse évaluer ce que doit être une loi révélée, donc une loi religieuse monothéiste", a-t-il assuré. "On ne peut pas parler d'une religion comme d'un archaïsme", a affirmé Gilles Bernheim, ajoutant : "Il s'agit d'une parole révélée, il ne s'agit pas d'une mesure d'hygiène, il ne s'agit pas d'un raisonnement que les hommes tiennent pour savoir si, sur le plan de l'hygiène, sur le plan sanitaire, c'est une bonne manière de mettre fin à la vie des animaux".
Since my previous post on this subject elicited a number of militant laïque comments. perhaps I should add that I am myself a fairly militant laïque and by no means a "communitarist" or apostle of "revealed religion" (like the rabbi in the statement above), but I am also a militant liberal committed to the notion that the public square is not the place to thrash out differences over "comprehensive ideas of the Good," to borrow a phrase from John Rawls. Tolerance is essential to a decent liberal democracy, and that includes tolerance of beliefs and "ancestral traditions" to which I cannot subscribe myself and to which I would prefer others did not subscribe. But if I can't convince them of that by rational means, then I do not propose to browbeat them into submission by law backed by police powers. To be sure, there are difficult areas of conflict. The humane treatment of animals is important. But both Muslim and Jewish religious authorities have reached accommodations with political authorities on this score, and until now no one saw fit to question those arrangements. Nor does it appear to me that concern for the welfare of animals was what motivated recent statements by Sarkozy, Guéant, and Le Pen. Fillon may or may not fall into a different category, but I fault him for tolerating an overt attack on the principle of religious toleration. As the prime minister representing a party whose president once said that only men of the cloth could teach certain moral lessons that were beyond the ken of the Republic's teachers, he is hardly in a position now to tell the same men of the cloth that their atavistic customs have no place in the Republic.


Robert said...

Itele confirms: Francois Fillon will meet with Rabbi Bernheim tomorrow (Wednesday) at Matignon, but no word on Muslim leaders. Am I missing something? What gives?

Anonymous said...

Because Jewish voters were likely to vote for Sarkozy, whereas Muslim voters weren't.
But in the end, Fillon realized he couldn't just meet with a rabbi and thus decided to invite Muslim leaders too.
Right now, on TV, masterpiece of Sefardi humor: La vérité si je mens M6), with an alternate version on F2.

Massilian said...

Sure. Tolerance is part of the laïcité. I have no problem being tolerant with beliefs I don't share. I have no problem with jews and muslims buying free to buy kosher or hallal food. I have no problem with stores offering hallal or kosher foods, or both if they have clients for that. I do have a problem when hallal and kosher foods enter the cantines of the republican shool system or other public institutions. I don't want such differences to express themselves there. It is not a "neutral" ground, it is a republican territory. I do have a problem if a store sells me hallal or kosher food without my knowledge, just because it is more profitable. I do have a problem when the laïc tolerance principle is stretched to the point where religious beliefs and customs are challanging laïcité, pretend to be an option with the same rights as laïcité. I think it is the same problem when religious people wish that intelligent design be taught to kids in the shool system along with evolution, as two equivalent "theories". There are enough religious schools for that. And next, we should accept the burka or the veil everywhere, and why not allow that jewish women be separated from the men and travel in a different section of the buses. Where is the limit ? The bargaining to impose religious behaviour is endless. I think we have reached the point where laïcité becomes easily "stigmatisée" to use le mot à la mode as an intolerant racist, extremist ( right of left) attitude. This a major failure in our understanding of republican values and democracy.