September 27, 2021

Jean Castex launches an interministerial committee on secularism with a view to an action plan

An action plan for secularism. Jean Castex will install, Thursday July 15, the interministerial committee of secularism which will ratify an action plan in 17 measures, ranging from the training of all public officials to the monitoring of the deployment of ‘secularity referents’ in the administrations.

This first interministerial committee, bringing together around ten members of the government, marks the effective replacement of the Observatory of Secularism, a consultative body abolished by decree a month ago after having been accused, by certain politicians, of laxity vis-à-vis – against Islamism, which its leaders have always defended.

Reinforce republican principles

The committee aims, according to Matignon, to ‘set the various administrations in motion’ with the approach of the final adoption, next week, of the ‘bill reinforcing republican principles’, which contains several measures around secularism.

‘The challenge for the Committee is to make these provisions concrete as soon as the law is promulgated’, insists the Ministry of the Interior, to which the secretariat of the committee will be entrusted in the form of a ‘secularism office’. This office will have to ‘prepare and follow the decisions of the Interministerial Committee’, will provide ‘legal advice’ and ‘will be responsible for being the administration of reference’ in matters of secularism, according to this source.

In the roadmap, which will be validated on Thursday, there are therefore already known measures, such as the training of all agents from the three sides of the public service (State, territorial, hospital) in the principles of secularism, by 2025.

Support of civil servants

All eyes are on National Education, marked by the beheading in front of his college in Yvelines of Professor Samuel Paty, who had shown caricatures of Muhammad to his students. Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer entrusted in February a mission to the former Inspector General of Education, Jean-Pierre Obin, intended to harmonize and improve training in secularism for teachers and school leaders.

Within all the administrations will be deployed, from 2022, ‘secularity referents’ dedicated to ‘supporting agents who are in situations of isolation’ or questioning, explains the Ministry of the Civil Service, specifying that the network would be run by the Interior. Likewise, sub-prefects will be appointed in each department to ‘animate local policies around secularism’, adds Beauvau.

‘We must defend the officials, we must not leave them alone with difficult questions, that’s why we need the referents’, argued, Wednesday, on Cnews, Amélie de Montchalin, the minister of the Civil Service.

A ‘day of secularism’

The bill currently being adopted extends the principle of religious neutrality to organizations or companies delegated to public service (transport, etc.). And creates a ‘deferred secularism’ which allows the prefects to seize the administrative judge in the face of an act of a local authority that they consider contrary to the principles of secularism, such as for example the establishment of differentiated schedules according to the genders in the swimming pools.

Finally, the committee will ratify the establishment of a ‘secularism day’ on December 9, the anniversary of the famous law of 1905.

‘We are entering into a secularism in action’ declared the Minister for Citizenship, Marlène Schiappa.

‘We are entering into a secularism in action, in a secularism of actions. There have been a lot of theoretical debates for many years, and controversies, now it’s time to take action, ‘said Marlène Schiappa at the microphone of France Inter.