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International Bureau for Laïcite*

*After consultation, we finally resolve to use the French concept/word in our name. The reason for it is that the word 'secularism' in English conveys the notion of equal tolerance of the state vis-a-vis all religions, rather than the notion of separation between church/religion and state as well as the total divestment of the state in religions, which is embedded in the French concept of laicite. Some scholars have started to use the word 'laicity', but the term is not generally known.

Founded 9 December 2009. To join us.

Founding Charter of the International Bureau for Laïcite*

Considering that:

  • The so-called theory of 'clash of civilisations' between a 'Christian West' on the one hand, and a 'Muslim Orient' on the other, is gaining ground, in total disregard of all people the world over, who have been fighting in favour of a political model founded on principles of secularism,
  • In the name of defending the 'right to difference', numerous states are legitimizing differences of rights between citizens depending on their faith, thereby fueling communalisms,
  • With the help of religions, governments try to draw people into warlike confrontations
  • In addition to fighting against existing disparities between men and women, women have to unceasingly defend their hard won rights, notably equality in the realm of social and professional rights and bodily rights,
  • That, in many countries, the rise of different fundamentalisms has come to increase the subordination of women
  • Despite a movement towards secularisation and the decline of religions, globalisation of neoliberal policies (favoured by the Washington consensus) that emerged in the 80's, stimulated the march towards privatisation and commoditisation of all human activities, and exacerbated inward looking communalism (the disengagement of the state necessitated the recourse to traditional forms of solidarity,substituingnational solidarity with the principle of charity),
  • The alliance that a communalized Left does not hesitate to make with religious organisations, in the name of fighting 'western imperialism', is damaging, as is the neoliberal disinvestment by the State from the social sphere that has allowed religious organisations to occupy that space
  • The current economic crisis has accentuated inequalities and poverty,

However, there has been a convergence of secularist, feminist and social struggles,everywhere in the world;

The organisations and persons  listed below have come together to set up the International Bureau for Laïcite, based on the present resolution, in order to promote secularism internationally.

1. We affirm our commitment to secularism. The principle of secularism, notably the strict separation of State and religion, guarantees the non interference of religion in the sphere of state authority; as well as a real independance of religious and faith based organisations of civil society vis-a-vis the state. Secularism guarantees to citizens the absolute freedom of conscience: the right to believe, the right to disbelieve, the right to change faith, as well as the right to freedom of expression. Consequently, the right to criticize religions is not to be put into question and it takes precedence above all moves to institute ' defamation of religions and their prophets' as a crime.

2. We affirm our commitment to the principle of equality and the universality of rights. We believe in a republican conception of citizenship, and we reject all systems which, in the name of particularisms, segment the body politic, either by privileging one category of citizens or by excluding it. Therefore we intend to fight against all forms of discriminations, notably those faced by women and the minorities.

3. We refuse the globalized predatory and destructive neoliberal policies which accentuate pauperisation, whose first victims are women and children;  state disengagement fosters the retreat of national solidarity in favour of traditional solidarities of 'communal' type. In wake of neoliberalism, we call for the internationalisation of struggles.

We call on organisations and individuals who identify with the principles of this statement to support and sign it, and join us.

Institutional Founders:

Coalition for a Secular State, Serbia

Collectif citoyen pour l'égalité et la laïcité (CCIEL), Montréal

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

Development Alternatives with Women for A New Era (DAWN),  international network

Equal Rights Now - Organisation against Women's Discrimination in Iran

Iran Solidarity

Iranian Secular Society

MAREA, feminist journal, Genova, Italy

Parti pour la Laïcité et la Démocratie (ex MDSL), Algérie

Protagoras, Croatia

One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain

Organization for Women's Liberation (OWL), Iran

Secularism Is A Women's Issue (SIAWI), international network

Union des Familles Laïques (UFAL), France

Women's Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights (WICUR) international network  

Women in Black - Belgrade (WIB), Serbia

Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML), international network

Individual Founders:

Zarizana Abul Aziz, lawyer, human rights activist, Malaysia

Samia Allalou, journaliste, Algérie/France

Hakim Arabdiou, militant laïque, France

Soheib Bencheikh, théologien, spécialiste des religions et de la laicité, ancien mufti de Marseille, France

Djemila Benhabib, auteure de Ma vie à conre-Coran, récipiendaire du Prix des écrivains francophones d'Amérique et finaliste pour le prix du gouverneur général 2009

Codou Bop, journaliste, Dakar, Sénégal

Caroline Brancher, co-responsable du secteur féminisme et laïcité de l'UFAL, Paris

Ariane Brunet, co-fondatrice de Urgent Action Fund , Montréal

Sonia Correa,  co-coordinator of Sexuality Policy Watch and Research Associate at ABIA (Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association for AIDS (Brazil)), Rio De Janeiro.

Yvonne Deutsch, feminist peace activist, Jerusalem

Lalia Ducos, présidente de WICUR, Paris-Alger

Gigi Franscisco, coordinator of the DAWN international network, Manila, The Philippines

Pierre Galand, président du Centre d'action laïque (CAL), Belgique

Nadia Geerts, initiatrice du R.A.P.P.E.L. (, Belgique

Laura Guidetti, President and co-founder of MAREA, Genova, Italy

Marieme Helie Lucas, Fondatrice du WLUML et coordinatrice de SIAWI, Algérie/France

Hameeda Hossein, co-chair of South Asians for Human Rights and Chairperson of Ain o Salish Kendra, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Ayesha Imam, Sociologist, human rights activists, Nigeria

Harsh Kapoor, founder of South Asia Citizens Web (, France/Inde

Sultana Kamal, lawyer and human rights activist, Executive Director of Ain O'Salish Kendra, Dhakha, Bangladesh,  former Advisor to the Caretaker Government  of Bangladesh

Cherifa Kheddar, présidente de l'association " Djazairouna" des Familles Victimes du Terrorisme Islamiste, Algérie

Catherine Kintzler, philosophe de la laïcité, Paris, France

Monica Lanfranco, journalist, co-founder of MAREA, Genova, Italy

Azar Majedi, Présidente de l'OWL, Iran/U.K

Maryam Namazie, Campaigner, Iran/U.K

Fariborz Pooya, Iranian Secular Society, Iran/U.K

Venita Popovic,  Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mary Jane Real, lawyer and human rights activist, Manilla, The Philippines

Nina Sankari, Présidente de l'Initiative Féministe Européenne (IFE), Pologne

Aisha Shaheed, historian and women's rights activist,Canada/Pakistan/UK

Mohamed Sifaoui, journaliste, Algérie/France

Fatou Sow, sociologue au CNRS, Dakar, Sénégal

Gila Svirsky, Women In Black, Jerusalem

Lino Veljak, Professor of philosophy, University of Zagreb, founder of PROTAGORAS, Croatia

Vivienne Wee, anthropologist and women's rights advocate, Singapore and Hong Kong, China

Stasa Zajovic, founder of WIB-Belgrade, coordinator of the Coalition for a Secular State, Serbia

To join us.

Cheney slammed President Obama for bowing before the emperor of Japan. Cheney said, 'Come on, it's not like he's the CEO of Exxon.' -Conan O'Brien