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French secularism: Religious liberty and the law

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  • Holy Uncle
    ***Penyelesaian krisis ekonomi lebih penting daripada menangani isu Ahmadiyah dan penutupan gereja liar. Menyimpukan pemerintah tidak berani, tidak melindungi
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2005
      ***Penyelesaian krisis ekonomi lebih penting daripada menangani isu
      Ahmadiyah dan penutupan gereja liar. Menyimpukan pemerintah tidak berani,
      tidak melindungi sekularisme, sangat subyektif dan tidak bisa bedakan yang
      mana duluan.

      ***Menghapus subsidi BBM bisa menjadi satu keputusan fatal pemerintahan SBY,
      toh SBY tetap berani melaksanakan. Biarlah Ahmadiyah dibantu NU, selesaikan
      kasus di pengadilan. MUI takut Ahmadiyah berarti makin banyak pengikut
      Ahmadiyah, kenapa harus kaitkan isu Ahmadiyah dengan religious liberty,
      selama MUI adalah mejelis tertinggi ?

      *** Soal penutupan gereja2 liar, yang selalu digugat adalah ditutup oleh
      hard-liners. Andai kata ditutup oleh polisi atas dasar belum ada izin,
      apakah isu penutupan gereja2 liar menjadi isu ?

      ***Ya kalau Prancis izinkan religious liberty, untuk apa adakan undang2
      melarang murid Muslim berjilbab ? Bukankah ada kontradiksi antara religious
      liberty dan the law ? Ayam dan telor ?

      French secularism: Religious liberty and the law
      Muhamad Ali, Manoa, Hawaii

      Endy M. Bayuni's article, Neither Secular nor Theocratic? Try Laicite, is
      very interesting because it argues for Indonesia to consider the French path
      of secularism or laicite. Despite Indonesia's formal adoption of Pancasila
      as the state ideology, the government, religious leaders, and the public
      remain confused about how the state ought to deal with religious affairs and
      how religions should relate to the state.

      The issue is crucial and timely. The recent attacks and condemnation of
      minority groups Ahmadiyah and Liberal Islam Network, the religious edicts
      (fatwa) condemning pluralism, liberalism and secularism and the forced
      closure of hundreds of churches by hard-liners, are not only indicative of
      the constitutionally ambiguous state-religion relationship, but also of the
      lack of understanding (and enforcement) of religious liberty and supremacy
      of the law in Indonesia.

      Of course, Indonesia is not the only country facing such problems. But
      Indonesia could have learned from other countries that have faced similar
      problems and have generally coped with them more intelligently and
      successfully. France could be one of them. The question, however, is not
      whether or not Indonesia should adopt the exact and complete form of French
      secularism, or laicite, due to its complexity there, but about which aspects
      of French laicite could be feasibly contextualized within Indonesia's
      situation. Localization or domestication of some of the good things of
      French secularism is perhaps more relevant and feasible today. Two of such
      elements are religious liberty and the law.

      As Jacques Robert argued well in Enjeux du Siecle: Nos Libertes (2002),
      France has experimented throughout its history with nearly all of the
      existing forms of church-state relations. Since 1905, France found that
      laicite conforms more than any other form to France's inclinations and
      ideals. A regime of total separation -- by no means hostile to, but tolerant
      of religions -- is the approach that conforms most to France's democratic
      ideals of liberty, egalitarianism and fraternity.

      The French Constitution of 1905 stipulates that the Republic ensures the
      liberty of conscience and guarantees the free exercise of religion, under
      restrictions prescribed by the interests of public order. It also rules that
      the Republic does not recognize, remunerate, or subsidize any religious

      Politically, France prefers the politics of non-recognition (that is, to
      abandon the system of recognized religions) to the politics of recognition
      (to recognize all religions without discrimination (recently called the
      politics of multiculturalism or pluralism). Although in both cases the state
      puts all religions at the same level politically, France decided that in
      order to be neutral in terms of religion, it should recognize none. French
      politics of non-recognition does not mean, however, that the government does
      not wish to maintain good relations with religious leaders and communities.
      It is not an attitude of hostility or suspicion, as Jacques Robert aptly put

      Moreover, unlike Indonesia, the French government does not finance or
      subsidize a religion. Yet, the 1905 French Constitution gives the
      possibility of state subsidies for activities that have a general character
      despite taking place in a religious setting like charities, hospitals,
      nursing homes etc.

      The same subsidy is also provided for direct administration by public
      collectives of certain religious services (religious instruction in public
      establishments such as high schools, junior high schools, hospitals,
      asylums, prisons, etc.) if the organization is deemed indispensable to
      insure that everyone has the freedom to practice their religion, and the
      payment of religious ministers when they render services to the general
      public (national religious ceremonies, media events, etc.). But as the basic
      principle, all churches are given the liberty to organize themselves and to
      establish and apply their internal rules.

      On liberty of conscience, France recognizes that there is no second-class
      citizen based on ethnicity, class, or religion. In accordance with one of
      the articles of The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, no one
      should be harassed due to his or her opinions, including religious opinions.
      Article 2 of the Constitution of Oct. 4, 1958 under the terms of which
      France is a secular state also assures equality before the law for all
      citizens without distinction based on origin, race or religion.

      The principle of the liberty of religion precludes any operation of any type
      of distinction between religions, whether the religion is practiced by
      cults, sects, heterodoxies, or by the mainstream. The state must protect the
      minority religion in the name of the liberty of religion.

      When religious liberty threatens public order, it is the law that should be
      obeyed and enforced. In France, the state shall punish those who utilize
      violent acts or threats against an individual (creating either fear of job
      loss or causing injury to the individual's person, family or wealth) to
      force that individual to participate, or to refrain from participating, in a
      religion or religious sect. The jurisprudence of French tribunals do not
      interfere in religious rules, and the courts do not take jurisdiction unless
      a threat to public order exists.

      Liberty only consists of the power to act in a manner that does not endanger
      public safety or individual rights. The law is always authorized to penalize
      the authors of these harmful acts, as Jacques Robert pointed out.

      All religious movements that respect the public order must have their
      religious practices protected equally. The European Convention on the
      Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, for example, recognizes
      the right of every person to receive or communicate ideas without regard to
      national borders.

      In France, no religious people and movements should be above the law,
      because everyone must respect the law. French law will not leave unpunished
      the condemnable actions of those who come to illegitimately proselytize and
      thus contravene the law. Fraud, abuse of trust, violence and assault,
      illegal confinement, lack of assistance to a person in danger, extreme
      breaches of fundamental social mores, illegal practice of medicine,
      abduction and brainwashing of a minor, etc. are all punishable under the

      Thus, what Indonesia can learn is the French principles of religious liberty
      and supremacy of the law. Inter and intra-religious problems should be first
      and foremost solved by the religious groups themselves, whereas the state
      only interferes so long as it is aimed to ensure the liberty of all
      religions and all parties involved, and to ensure that no particular group
      harms other groups or endangers public order, the criteria of which shall be
      governed by the law.

      The writer is a lecturer at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, a
      Ph.D candidate in History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a fellow
      at the East-West Center. He can be reached at muhali74@...

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