March 2007 Church & State | AU Bulletin

 A French government panel has urged adoption of a charter ensuring the separation of government and religion in public hospitals and other institutions.

Last fall, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin asked the High Council on Integration to provide recommendations on how to ensure that the nation maintains secularism.

The panel’s report came on the heels of the conviction of a young Muslim man who slapped the chief of a Paris maternity ward because of the doctor’s examination of his wife, the Associated Press reported.

According to press reports, male doctors in maternity wards have seen an increase in confrontations with patients fueled by religious beliefs.

At his trial, the Muslim man maintained, “In my religion, a man doesn’t touch a woman.”

The panel said a charter should be adopted by France that guarantees it is a secular country and that sections of the charter trumpeting secularism be displayed at hospitals and other institutions. Immigrants who become citizens of France would also be given copies of the charter.