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Secularism for the Win?


The latest in laïcité: the mayor of a Parisian suburb banned a vendor from the city’s Christmas market because she was wearing a Muslim headscarf.

Zekiye Yildirim was invited by the market’s organizer to sell her pastries and other sweets. She arrived on the morning of November 30 to set up and decorate her stand for the market’s first day–and was warmly greeted by the organizers, headscarf and all. The market opened at 3pm and all seemed to be going well.

Then at 6pm, Mayor Julien Bachard arrived with his small delegation, which included a senator from his own party (les Républicains, center-right). Hoping to avoid a scene, Yildirim suggested that she finish the last two hours for that evening, but not return the next day. The mayor insisted that she pack up and leave immediately.

French secularism, laïcité, is more and more often mobilized against French Muslims. Now, this was not always the case, and there are plenty of ways that Republican secular law has proved flexible when necessary or desired. Mayor Bachard insisted in this case that Yildirim, by virtue of appearing at the municipally organized market, was performing a public service and therefore subject to a host of restrictions on religious expression.

The legal expert quoted in the linked article dismisses the mayor’s case on the basis that Yildirim was not a publicly salaried employee.

But, really, let’s all just stop for a moment and remember that this went down at a publicly organized fucking CHRISTMAS market. La France laïque, indeed.

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