Article: Nicolas Sarkozy’s Faith in the Republic | Tocqueville Review

The Tocqueville Review/La Revue Tocqueville, Vol.XXX, No.1, 2009

Abstract:

President Sarkozy has defied numerous French taboos regarding the role of religion in the Republic. While campaigning, he told journalists that he finds solace in church on Sundays. But since taking office, he has more often been seen visiting mosques and synagogues: he didn’t publicly celebrate Ash Wednesday, but he brought journalists along to watch him break the Ramadan fast. In issuing a book on religious faith two years before running for president, Sarkozy signaled he would be of a different mold than the previous officeholders of the Fifth Republic. Is there something “American” about his comfort with religion in the public sphere? This essay provides a reflection on Sarkozy’s attitudes towards religious community in France and Islam in particular. With the aid of field notes from a decade of interviews with French politicians, the author argues that Sarkozy is “globalizing” French attitudes towards religion and diversity in service of a conception of healthy democracy that would make Tocqueville proud.

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