Secularism in Senegal: Withstanding the Challenge of Local Realities

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This paper examines secularism in Senegal from a legal viewpoint and traces the history of the deliberate manner in which the Senegalese constitution was constructed to ensure the secular orientation of the state. The author emphasizes that Senegalese secularism is not anti-religious, but rather emphasizes mutual tolerance among diverse religious and guarantees freedom of worship. Although secularism in Senegal rests on a solid legal base, it is not untouchable. The author outlines what he considers to be the current threats to secularism in Senegal--including a president who openly manifests religious affiliation and the new "marabout politicians" and their increasingly militant supporters. The author also notes the attempted removal of references to secularism in the draft of the 2001 constitution and the proposal of a new Family Code with the Islamist agenda that claims to be in accordance with shari'a. On balance, however, the author observes that an association of organizations has been created for the defense of secularism, and concludes that the populace remains very committed to secularism.

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  • 01/02/2019
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