Special Reports / A new or an old war? Secular state and faithful believers

A new or an old war? Secular state and faithful believers

Redakcja Kultury Liberalnej · 2 September 2014

Dear Readers,

the story happened in Kielce. A clerk from the local magistrate’s office has converted to Islam. She started to wear a scarf covering her hair, and long, dark skirts. Troubles came step by step. Eventually, the woman was fired. The employer claimed that there was no religious discrimination in this case. Nonetheless, the court sentenced in favour of the woman, ruling that she should get back her job on previous terms.

Further investigation is still in progress. However, one can clearly see that after ten years in the EU, the issues of multiculturalism became Polish issues as well. The case from Kielce shows that problems do not have to rise from mass migration. One of the recent cases from Western Europe concerned the question, whether a private kindergarten could fire a baby-sitter for wearing a Muslim scarf at work.

These are the dilemmas of the today’s European judiciary. Italy, Germany, Great Britain- all these countries are facing today the question about the most appropriate system of values which could unify their societies. Meanwhile, European Court of Human Rights has sustained the French ban on covering faces in public places. Again, a young woman appealed a case for discrimination. Theoretically, people cannot enter schools, public offices, train stations or parks in a helmet or balaclavas, but everyone understands that it is all about burqas and niqabs. Violating the law may result in a severe fee. In Belgium, Muslim parents pressed school authorities to teach traditional values and to allow students to wear their traditional dress. In the end, wearing scarfs was also abandoned in that country. Besides, the idea of a common front of conservative Muslims and conservative Catholics, fighting together with the secular state, does not seem to be improbable. They can defend together the so-called ‘traditional model of family.’

Recent Polish disputes between the supporters of a secular state and Catholics should make us rethink the issue.

What should we choose? How Polish tolerance will work in practice? Will our parliament vote for a ban of covering faces with burqas and niqabs?

In Kultura Liberalna, we come back to the discussion started by Martha Nussbaum, who supports the idea of mutual adaptation between the immigration and the hosting communities, and Alan Finkielkraut, a fierce opponent of the dominant culture’s concessions to the immigrants.

In this issue, we present you with commentaries of world-famous philosophers of politics: Charles Taylor, Olivier Roy and Iwan Krastew.

Jarosław Kuisz