08 September 2016
The burkini ban in France is but the most recent assault on religious freedom
I’ve never wanted to see habited and veiled Catholic nuns more in my life. At French beaches. In droves. Religious liberty is not about any particular religion; it is about how Western secular pluralistic democracies enshrine the rights of their citizens to the free exercise of religion and, rightly, to defend others’ rights to have no religion at all. Although the banning of the burkini from French beaches is dressed up in the language of the culture wars, it is but the most recent assault on religious freedom.
Several countries have already banned the wearing of crosses in the workplace. Crucifixes have been ordered to be removed from classrooms, not in Islamic republics, but in Ireland, Spain, France, the Czech Republic and Italy. Even holy ground for the dead is not immune. There are no religious symbols at the 9/11 memorial, which, for the families of the victims, is a monumental cemetery. And Dudley, Massachusetts, is being investigated by a federal attorney over its rejection of the local Islamic community’s request to open a cemetery.
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