Date of Award/Publication

5-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in International Studies

Department

International Studies

Abstract

The French Revolution began as the quest for democracy and power shifts within the government, but it was so much more than just that. When all was said and done, France became a completely different nation: a Republic, first and foremost, but also a secular nation that rejected the influence of the Catholic Church. This was one of the biggest changes implemented by the new government as it paved a steady, yet rocky, path for the future. In the twentieth century, European colonialism was corning to an end as nations fought for their independence. One such nation was Algeria and their struggle was enough to start a war between her and her mother country: France. In 1962, the end of the Algerian War led to a dramatic increase in immigration into France which introduced both a non-indigenous religion and culture into society. The result was a new-found conflict between France's philosophy of secularism and religion. The government's answer to the tensions was a ban on all ostentatious religious symbols in public schools. Students are not, currently, allowed to express their religion by wearing large Christian crosses, Jewish yarmulkes or skull caps, Islamic headscarves, Sikh turbans, or any other symbol that denotes a specific religious affiliation. The ban has proven to be effective thus far, but questions still remain regarding its success due to the prospering religious schools in the nation which seem to be aiding the government' s actions. The success of this legislation is difficult to judge because it is an ongoing aspect of French society. France is facing new challenges as her society changes with the introduction of Islam and she is trying to compromise with her people, but has the government found the correct balance between religion and secularism?

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