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Laïcité: Brard in court over a cross
November 2008


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AFP (20.11.2008) - For refusing in the name of laicité (secularism) to allow a cross-wearing elected official to speak in a budget hearing, the former mayor of Montreuil, Jean-Pierre Brard (French Communist Party), appeared Thursday before the criminal court of Bobigny. The prosecutor seeks required citizenship service as penalty.

Long consulted on matters of secularism, the assemblyman was accused of "refusal of rights by a civil servant on grounds of religion" (A discriminatory act prohibited by Article 432-7 of the Penal Code) by Patricia Vayssière (National Republican Movement), elected representative of Montreuil since 2001.

At the City Council meeting of 8 November 2006 devoted to the city budget, she was not allowed to speak. Referring to the cross she wears around her neck, Mr Brard said, "I ask Ms. Vayssière to eliminate all forms of provocative religious exhibitionnism, which is a violation of secularism", therafter he refused to allow her to speak into the microphone despite vehement protests.

Prosecutor Remi Chaise stated to the court that the former mayor had "let himself be carried away in extending the scope of his personal convictions beyond legal limits" and had disallowed a fellow citizen of the exercise of religious freedom. He asked the court to sentence Brard to a course in citizenship. The verdict will be delivered on December 18.

Translation by Human Rights Without Frontiers


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