Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Secularism or Bust

Europe's increasingly emboldened — some might say bullying — secularism flexed its muscles all across the continent in 2009. In Strasbourg, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the crucifix hanging on the walls of many Italian public schools is a violation of religious and educational freedom. Elsewhere in France and Italy, Muslim women wearing religious swimwear — cheekily referred to as Burqinis — were kicked out of public pools. French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged members of Parliament to consider banning burqas in public, declaring that "France is a country that has no place for the burqa." And most recently, Swiss voters approved a measure to prevent the building of mosques with minarets. Secularism is indeed strong in Europe, with more than two-thirds of survey respondents in countries such as Britain and France telling Gallup pollsters that religion is not important to them. But as "secularism" becomes cover for anti-Muslim rules, tensions in Europe will continue to rise.