Over the last couple of years, France has built up the reputation of a staunchly secular society where, slowly but surely, signs of religious manifestation are being removed from the public space with an appeal to laïcité (French secularism) and other French values. This is why it came as a surprise that, after a long list of unsuccessful religious manifestation cases, in August 2017 the Dijon Administrative Tribunal ruled against a municipality that had decided no to longer accommodate Muslim and Jewish dietary prescriptions in school canteens. The reason for the sudden change appeared to be the approach taken in the relevant case: Rather than basing itself on freedom of manifestation, the tribunal had chosen to decide the case solely on the basis of the best interests of the child. Although that approach offered some much-desired relief for the religious communities involved, following an overview of the case below, I will argue that it may not be a sustainable answer to the curtailing of religious manifestations in the name of laïcité.
- freedom of manifestation
- child's best interests