Catriona Robertson

journeys at home and abroad

Europe, multiculturalism & laïcité

The BBC’s Gavin Hewitt has touched on one or two issues that have come up at the CEJI course – how different do we want to be from each other?  How similar do we want or need to be?  How important is a shared language, or an agreed commitment to universal human rights?

Developments such as the upcoming vote in Switzerland on minarets and citizenship tests (UK) or training (parts of Belgium) seem to be on the rise.

One exercise in our training today involved putting togther a timeline of faith traditions/value systems and I was surprised to find something called laïcité in amongst Judaism and the Baha’i faith.  Based on a strong commitment to the separation of religion and the state, it is popular in France (where it originated) and in Turkey.

Being in the company of people from Holland, Austria, Romania, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and Belgium makes for wide-ranging conversations and a steep learning curve for me, but a fascinating one.  And I like finding philosophy monthlies in the newsagents here, next to the gardening, computer and lifestyle mags.


This entry was posted on 25 November 2009 by in Brussels and tagged , , , , .
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