President of the Vigie de la Laïcité and former minister, Jean-Louis Bianco will be in Toulouse this Saturday to lead a conference on the theme: “Laïcité: space of freedom or instrument of control? “, at the Hôtel du Département, from 10 am.
He was successively State Councilor, Secretary General of the Elysée under François Mitterrand, several times Minister, Deputy then Mayor of Digne-les-Bains and President of the General Council of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Jean-Louis Bianco has reproduced the Observatory of Secularism since its creation by Jacques Chirac in 2013 until its recent dissolution in June 2021 by Emmanuel Macron. He has just set up the Vigie de la laïcité association. He is also the author of “My years with Mitterrand” (Fayard, 2015) and “Is France secular? (Editions de l’Atelier, 2016). Interview.
Where does your interest in secularism come from?
During my various functions, I was able to understand very quickly to what extent secularism was a pillar of the Republic. It allows us to live together. Thanks to it, everyone can express their convictions. It allows freedom of worship on condition that it does not infringe the freedom of others and the proper functioning of the community. It is therefore a law of equilibrium that is often overlooked.
Secularism is what allows us to live together, you say. Comment?
By noting that we are all different, which is obvious in terms of origins, convictions, feelings of belonging, stories, union, political, associative commitments…, the secular Republic says that these differences are a richness , provided that we respect each other. There is something above these differences that brings us together: it is the fact that we are first and foremost citizens, women and men, who have rights and duties. It is a very powerful, universal principle that we must bring to life to prevent everyone from living separately. Solidarity actions give content to secularism.
At the Republic pavilion
At the initiative of Libre Pensée 31 and the Human Rights League, Jean-Louis Bianco will be in Toulouse this Saturday at 10 am. The former minister, president of the Vigie de la Laïcité will lead a conference entitled: “Laïcité: space of freedom or instrument of control? », at the Pavillon République, of the Departmental Council of Haute-Garonne (1 bd de la Marquette, metro Canal du Midi). Admission to the conference is free, within the limit of available places and on presentation of the health pass. Access will be open from 9:30 a.m. It is best to register by going up to the following address: [email protected]
Is the law the friend or the enemy of secularism, in the sense that it imposes a single vision?
The law is a friend of secularism. We are in a rule of law. If we had no rules, commenting on the reconciliation of different individual and collective freedoms, the law of the strongest would apply. This is extremely dangerous, because certain groups would like to dictate their behavior to other citizens, by wanting to substitute a religious law for the laws of the Republic. Therefore, secularism protects all convictions, including those of those who are not believers. But also those whose religions are not in the majority in some countries. In France, the State is neutral vis-à-vis religions. It’s a great protection tool that we talk about too little.
Three months before the presidential election, are some candidates flouting the very essence of secularism by playing on fear?
Absoutely. This is unfortunately one of the characteristics of the French debate in many areas and in particular in secularism. There is the problem of postures that are only made to distort emotions, incite fear or even violence or hatred. It is very dangerous, that within the framework of debates for the presidential election, one gathers on secularism whatever our political convictions because we have there a formidable common inheritance. We are in the process of attacking it and forgetting that it is primarily a freedom that dates from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens of 1789. By forgetting it, we sow the seeds of violence.
What are your conferences for, like the one on Saturday in Toulouse?
To provide tools for reflection and analysis to everyone.
Do you lack power?
Not at all. I am essentially an activist and since very young. What I like is helping people to understand each other, it’s being respected, it’s taking action. I flourish developed in this mission.