UCL Faculty of Laws


In-Person | Book Launch: The Republic, Secularism and Security

10 January 2023, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

Image of Prof. Raphael Cohen-Almagor’s and book cover

A UCL Centre for Ethics and Law to celebrate the publication of Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor’s new book

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The Republic, Secularism and Security: France versus the Burqa and the Niqab (SpringerBriefs in Political Science)

About the Book Launch

This book analyses French cultural policies in the face of what the French government perceives as a challenge to its Republican secular raison d'être. It makes general arguments about France’s changing identity and specific arguments about the burqa and niqab ban. The book further explains how French history shaped the ideology of secularism and of public civil religion, and how colonial legacy, immigration, fear of terrorism, and security needs have led France to adopt the trinity of indivisibilité, sécurité, laïcité while paying homage to the traditional trinity of liberté, égalité, fraternité.

The book argues that while this motto of the French Revolution is still symbolically and politically important, its practical significance as it has been translated to policy implementation has been eroded. It shows how the emergence of the new trinity at the expense of the old one is evident when analyzing the debates concerning cultural policies in France in the face of the Islamic garb. The book raises various important questions, such as: Is the burqa and niqab ban socially just? Does it reasonably balance the preservation of societal values and freedom of conscience? What are the true motives behind the ban? Has the discourse changed in the age of COVID-19, when all people are required to wear a mask in the public space?

Watch the video directly on our YouTube Channel or view it below

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The Speakers

Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor completed his DPhil in Political Theory at St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, where he worked with Geoffrey Marshall, Wilfrid Knapp and Isaiah Berlin. He is now Professor of Politics, University of Hull and Global Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA) and Nirma University (India). He was twice a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Laws, University College London. In 2023 he will be The Olof Palme Guest Professor, Lund University, Sweden.

Raphael is the founder of Israel’s “Second Generation to the Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance” Organization, The University of Haifa Center for Democratic Studies, The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Medical Ethics Think-tank, and The University of Hull Middle East Study Centre. Raphael has published more than 300 articles and books in the fields of politics, law, philosophy, media ethics, medical ethics, human rights, sociology and history. His main books are: The Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance (1994), The Right to Die with Dignity (2001), Speech, Media and Ethics (2001, 2005), Euthanasia in The Netherlands (2004), The Scope of Tolerance (2006, 2007), The Democratic Catch (2007), Confronting the Internet's Dark Side (2015), and Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism (2021). He Is now working on Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Critical Study of Peace Mediation, Facilitation and Negotiations between Israel and the PLO (forthcoming).

Catherine Audard is the Chair and co-founder of the Forum for European Philosophy. She was educated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and la Sorbonne in Paris. She has been teaching in Paris where she was a Directeur de programme at the Collège international de Philosophie between 1991 and 1998. She is now a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics where she teaches moral and political philosophy as well as continental philosophy.

Her current concerns are moral issues in political theory, conceptions of citizenship in France, multiculturalism and deliberative democracy. She has published numerous articles on liberalism and Republicanism, citizenship and theories of justice in various journals and collections. She has also published numerous translations into French, in particular John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice.

Her latest book, published in French, is on the history of liberalism:Qu’est-ce que le liberalisme? Ethique. Politique. Societe. Paris, Gallimard, 2009.