The debate is on since around 2 weeks on the various internet spaces where free speech is allowed about secularity in Mauritius Island. Many persons, specially those residing abroad, want to see Mauritius and that by the voice of the head of state to declare that it is a secular state and that all means will be used to make Mauritius a secular state.
The debate could have passed unnoticed if the political landscape of our island wasn't in a big turmoil. On the one side we have the political parties trying to emerge with a new political system and ascribe their names in history as the ones who gave Mauritius it's 2nd Republic and on the other side we have those who want to bring down all the political parties who have been in power since independence and to put in a place a copy of the political system in France, US or Even India !.
As times and events shape the reality of Mauritius, I cannot but think that what I thought at a time would be best for the Island has rapidly turned into something that could be a nightmare for the population. Yes, The people wants democracy, equality, justice, fairness and transparency but what if for the sake of this ideal.. of this ideology we bring down the less good ones for the worst !. This simple thought gives me the chills.
The Former President of Mauritius declared the following at the meeting of the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), I quote:
I could take the case of my own country, Mauritius, where pluralism and fundamental human rights are entrenched in the Constitution and where the concept of unity in diversity has, over the years, allowed the various ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious components of society to live together peacefully, not to say harmoniously. (1)Gerhard Robbers in the Encyclopedia on World Constitutions points out the following on Mauritius:
All public authorities are bound to remain strictly neutral in their relations with religious communities and no one religion may be given any preferential treatment to another without violating anti-discriminatory provisions. (2)
We thus understand that our country is secular but is unique in the sense that all religious are treated on the same level rather than removing and banning everything than are linked to religions. It is thus normal for all Mauritius that National public holidays are based on many religious festivals. The religious accessories and other ornaments or cultural clothes are used on a daily basis and is considered to be normal for everyone. However, people from other places coming to Mauritius would probably find it quite strange for someone to wear the hijjaab ( head scarf for women) at the office. Well, this is practice here in Mauritius.
The religious commitments of all segments of the populations are taken into account such that everyone can live to the fullest his/her religious commitments while being Mauritian and participating in the building of the nation.
Mauritius is and will remain the country of all faiths
1 sel lepep 1 sel nation
Unity in Diversity
Maryer piker pou nou avancer
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(1) - Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, "Conclusion Remarks by Former President of Mauritius, Mr. Cassam Uteem.", http://www.idea.int/uteem_presentation.cfm , June 2007.
(2) Gerhard Robbers, "Encyclopedia on World Constitutions", Facts on File Inc., An imprint of Infobase Publishing, 132 West 31st Street, New York, NY 10001.