1. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides the following:
(1) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. . . .
(3) Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. . . .
a) Is your country a party to the ICCPR?
b) Do you think it's important for a country to sign on to international covenants like the ICCPR? Why or why not?
c) Article 18(1) guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Article 18(3) provides limitations to this right. Name specific examples of the type of activities that should justify limiting one's right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Try to think of both real-life current and historical activities and events.
2. The French Law No. 2004-228 (see below) was based on the "Stasi Report," a product of the Stasi Commission which was charged by former French President Jacques Chirac to study the principle of laïcité and its application in France. What is your interpretation of the strong French doctrine of laïcité?
French Law No. 2004-228 Banning the Wearing of Conspicuous Religious Attire: In public elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools, students are prohibited from wearing signs or attire through which they exhibit conspicuously a religious affiliation.
3. Do you believe that how the principle of laïcité is applied in French culture is influenced by France's history, particularly with regards to the Catholic Church or perhaps the influx of Muslim immigrants? Why or why not?
4. The Stasi Commission discussed at length the Muslim headscarf and its place in French society. Name the various reasons why Muslim women and girls wear headscarves?
5. After watching the trial, what do you believe is the strongest argument the challengers to the law presented?
6. What additional arguments could the challengers of the law have made?
7. What was the strongest argument for those supporting the law?
8. What additional arguments could the supporters of law have made?
9. Do you consider the wearing of the headscarf is a freedom of religion, a women's rights, or other type of issue?
10. What do you believe are the implications of banning religious symbols in public schools or other public settings?
11. What role, if any, does a nation have in integrating a minority culture into society?
12. Do you agree with the French law on religious symbols in public schools? Why or why not?