1905 : The Soul of a Law

Éditorial : «1905, l’esprit d’une loi» LE FIGARO, 21st November 2018. There are laws, but then there are their spirit and their history. The depth of centuries is invested in the law of 1905. To understand it, one must keep in mind the tension between the spiritual and the temporal powers — the clash between Christian France and Republican France. As a law of compromise born in pain and brutality, it allows believer and non-believer to live quietly together. It’s about freedom of conscience and freedom of worship. Since its inception, this law has travelled through time not without difficulty — especially on the question of the schools — but without ever re-awakening the violence of earlier struggles.

“The temptation to compare our situation with that of 1905, is great — with today’s Muslims in the role of yesterday’s Catholics. The analogy is however inoperative.”

The presence today of a large Muslim population on our territory raises the question of its management. The temptation to compare our situation with that of 1905, is great — with today’s Muslims in the role of yesterday’s Catholics. The analogy is however inoperative. “Whatever were the differences between the “republicans” and the “clerics”, teachers and priests taught broadly the same morality,” recalls Pierre Manent [political scientist and academic]. Islam has its own frame of reference; has neither clergy nor Vatican; and its hierarchies, which often are linked to the leading countries of the Muslim world, are particularly difficult to understand. All attempts at rationalization have failed. Le Conseil français du culte musulman [CFCM, The French Council of the Muslim Faith] is under Turkish influence, and the Foundation for Islam has come to a standstill. The majority of French Muslims do not need an amendment to the law of 1905 in order to both participate in national life and go freely to the mosque. Those who yield to the temptations of separatism, and work to expand a counter-society based on Koranic law, mock the Republic. Let’s begin simply by bringing down on them our existing laws on opaque financing and bellicose preaching. If we have abandoned tranches of territory to the Islamists; if it takes months if not years to close down a dangerous mosque or deport a raving imam, the law of 1905 is hardly to blame. Our lack of courage and determination, on the other hand, is very much to blame. Le Figaro