BEZIERS, France — The mayor of a city in Southern France has once more arrange a nativity scene inside its municipal constructing, defying the nation’s secularism laws.
The glassed-in spiritual scene was put in earlier this month within the city corridor of Beziers, on the behest of Mayor Robert Menard. That’s in obvious violation of France’s strict secularism legal guidelines (known as “laicite” in French), that are designed to implement a separation of church and state.
Displaying spiritual symbols in areas administered by the Republic, similar to colleges and administrative workplaces, is towards the legislation.
Varied associations, together with SOS Racisme, in addition to left-wing opposition events and elected officers, have expressed outrage at what they see as Menard’s disregard for state rules. They’ve filed complaints, asking the authorities to step in, however no authorized motion has been taken this yr — nor, apparently, in the course of the earlier years the identical show was erected.
In 2017, the judiciary ordered the mayor to take away the nativity scene. It was moved a bit additional away, to a neighborhood council workplace. In 2018, the identical incident occurred. (The scene was apparently additionally erected in 2019, however info on whether or not it brought on any controversy then was not instantly obtainable.)
This yr, the scene depicting the start of Jesus was put in on Dec. 4, a city spokesperson stated. “That is the fourth yr we have now run the nativity scene and the prefecture and the authorities haven’t filed any authorized motions towards town in earlier years. We see no motive why they might begin now.
“Hundreds of individuals go to see the nativity scene yearly and completely find it irresistible.”
The spokesperson additionally disputed accounts claiming social-media responses to the scene have primarily been unfavorable. “The reactions there are overwhelmingly optimistic,” the city consultant stated.
The spokesperson added that yearly, the show has a selected theme. This yr’s is “Arriere Pays,” which loosely interprets into English because the “hinterlands,” with a concentrate on native mountainous landscapes. Earlier years’ themes have centered on small native companies and different points of the realm’s tradition.
Zenger contacted the prefecture searching for remark and clarification of its place, however had not acquired a reply at press time.
Related disputes happen in different international locations with legal guidelines calling for the separation of church and state, including the U.S.
(Edited by Matthew B Corridor and Fern Siegel)
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