Laïcité: Ousting Some Religious Elements while Introducing Others

J Doomen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The meaning of “laïcité” has gradually changed from the principle that the state should abstain from interfering in citizens’ lives with respect to religious matters to the idea that citizens themselves have an obligation to desist from publicly manifesting themselves religiously. French citizens were first forbidden to display religious symbols or apparel in public schools; this restriction was subsequently extended to the public space. Most citizens are not affected by the restrictions, but they are a disproportional burden for Muslim women who consider wearing a full veil a religious obligation. Ironically, the obligation imposed on every citizen to accept the “choice of society” is based on values that may be qualified as religious. Laïcité is, then, an inconsistent idea, apparently banning religions from the public space while imposing alternative religious ideas. It cannot serve as the basis for disallowing wearing a full veil in public.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-290
Number of pages17
JournalDemocracy and Security
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Constitutional law
  • Full veil
  • Islam
  • Laicite
  • Secularism


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