In contrast to most South Asian countries, modern India has always been officially “secular”, a word the country inscribed in its Constitution in 1976. Secularism, here, is not synonymous with the French “laïcité”, which demands strong separation of religion and the state. India’s secularism does not require exclusion of religion from the public sphere. On the contrary, it implies recognition of all religions by the state. This philosophy of inclusivity finds expression in one article of the Constitution by which all religious communities may set up schools that are eligible for state subsidies.
London – Spring has come early this year to the Arab world. Climate change has awakened the once comatose Middle East from the stupor of singular leaderships. A new dawn of democracy and freedom is sprouting from Morocco to Oman. Or so we are told.
Professor Javeed Alam is former Head of Department of Centre For European Studies, CIEFL. Mr. Alam is India specialist and his wide range of expertise include e.g. philosophical treatment of modernity, secularism, marxism and communist movement, democracy as well as politics and the caste system in India.
Franz Brugger is an expert on the relations between Islam and the West, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. He has worked as an advisor to the UN Alliance of Civilizations and has undertaken extensive academic research on politics and religion.
One always wishes that a debate as complicated as the one on the burqa takes place in an environment where there is neither an opportunistic, polarized discussion on national identity, nor a vote against minarets in a neighboring country. But we do not live in an ideal world. The burqa debate has entered the public sphere, and now must be addressed. The solution is for Parliament should express its rejection of any sign undermining women’s dignity.
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