Religious symbols and attire in public schools: a comparative constitutional analysis
In this paper I will be examining the Secular State’s approach towards religious symbols in public schools in a comparative constitutional method. Here in religious symbols I have included the symbols and other religious clothing and attires worn by members of several religions. In light of the current controversies regarding right to display religious symbols in schools, colleges and other public institutions it has become necessary to do a comparative analysis of several multicultural and ‘secular’ societies and draw some lessons from them. Although secular values and privacy of religion is being increasingly accepted, there is a danger that secularism itself may degenerate into a dogma and may become oppressive for people by violating their freedom of religion. This paper is therefore an attempt in this direction of finding a pragmatic solution to this problem. This issue has created a storm of controversies especially in Europe. There are several facets of this controversy. First pertains to display of religious symbols in schools and display of religious symbols by the teachers. In this context I have examined some European countries, some North American Countries and South Africa to get a better perspective.
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