Fighting Anti-Semitism Requires Free Speech
Under France's constitutional system, secularism allows for the harmonious coexistence of different faiths, because it prevents any belief system from encroaching on others' individual liberties. But now this system is being challenged by a campaign to silence critics of radical interpretations of Islam.
PARIS – The populist surge across the West has brought with it, no surprise, a rising tide of anti-Semitism. In the United Kingdom, the Labour party is bedeviled by charges that its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, tolerates anti-Semitic comments among his hard-left supporters. In Hungary, a key component of recently re-elected Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s campaign was a barely disguised anti-Semitic attack against the philanthropist George Soros.
In France, anti-Semitism comes from two directions: the far-right National Front and certain sections of the country’s large Muslim community. And the means by which France is combating its anti-Semitic outbursts could well prove to be a useful model for other countries to follow.
For starters, the French social contract is based on the peaceful coexistence of different religions, none of which can be sponsored by the state. At the same time, the rule of law necessarily takes priority over any specific religious precept.