As a veteran campaigner for secularism, for de-religionization of
society and for women’s rights I salute all of you who have gathered
to celebrate 100 years of secularism in France.
It is important to promote and safeguard secularism as a necessary
condition for a free society. Throughout history more people have
been killed, maimed and tortured under the name of God and religion
than any other cause. Unfortunately, still, many people are killed
and tortured under religious laws, by religious states, and religious
thugs every day. Separation of church from the state is a significant
achievement. This becomes more clear to us, as we are witnessing
the inroads religion is making in our present society. It tries
to dominate all aspects of our lives and society. We need to fight
back; we need to push religion back to the sphere of private life.
The fact that such a law existed in France made our struggle against
religion’s role in public life easier. The recent law to ban carrying
all conspicuous religious symbols in public institutions and schools
was an important step forward.
We should safeguard this law, but we should keep in mind that this
is not sufficient. We need to go further. We need to build stronger
barriers to stop religion interfering in society’s affairs. Our
historical experience shows that unless we defeat religion we would
never be free of the threats this institution imposes on our society.
We need to go forward and to de-religionize society. In order to
achieve a free society, in order to promote free thinking, we need
to push religion back from all sphere of public life.
We should build on our recent achievements in the secular camp,
against religion’s role in public life and against political Islam
to plan future action.
Two important items on our agenda must be to ban all religious schools
and to ban veiling of under-age girls.
Chair for Organisation for Women’s Liberation
Host of No to Political Islam &