The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees, it employs over 20,950 staff in total. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time and fixed-contract staff are included; the BBC is established under a Royal Charter and operates under its Agreement with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture and Sport. Its work is funded principally by an annual television licence fee, charged to all British households and organisations using any type of equipment to receive or record live television broadcasts and iPlayer catch-up; the fee is set by the British Government, agreed by Parliament, used to fund the BBC's radio, TV, online services covering the nations and regions of the UK. Since 1 April 2014, it has funded the BBC World Service, which broadcasts in 28 languages and provides comprehensive TV, online services in Arabic and Persian.
Around a quarter of BBC revenues come from its commercial arm BBC Studios Ltd, which sells BBC programmes and services internationally and distributes the BBC's international 24-hour English-language news services BBC World News, from BBC.com, provided by BBC Global News Ltd. From its inception, through the Second World War, to the 21st century, the BBC has played a prominent role in British culture, it is known colloquially as "The Beeb", "Auntie", or a combination of both. Britain's first live public broadcast from the Marconi factory in Chelmsford took place in June 1920, it was sponsored by the Daily Mail's Lord Northcliffe and featured the famous Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba. The Melba broadcast caught the people's imagination and marked a turning point in the British public's attitude to radio. However, this public enthusiasm was not shared in official circles where such broadcasts were held to interfere with important military and civil communications. By late 1920, pressure from these quarters and uneasiness among the staff of the licensing authority, the General Post Office, was sufficient to lead to a ban on further Chelmsford broadcasts.
But by 1922, the GPO had received nearly 100 broadcast licence requests and moved to rescind its ban in the wake of a petition by 63 wireless societies with over 3,000 members. Anxious to avoid the same chaotic expansion experienced in the United States, the GPO proposed that it would issue a single broadcasting licence to a company jointly owned by a consortium of leading wireless receiver manufactures, to be known as the British Broadcasting Company Ltd. John Reith, a Scottish Calvinist, was appointed its General Manager in December 1922 a few weeks after the company made its first official broadcast; the company was to be financed by a royalty on the sale of BBC wireless receiving sets from approved domestic manufacturers. To this day, the BBC aims to follow the Reithian directive to "inform and entertain"; the financial arrangements soon proved inadequate. Set sales were disappointing as amateurs made their own receivers and listeners bought rival unlicensed sets. By mid-1923, discussions between the GPO and the BBC had become deadlocked and the Postmaster-General commissioned a review of broadcasting by the Sykes Committee.
The Committee recommended a short term reorganisation of licence fees with improved enforcement in order to address the BBC's immediate financial distress, an increased share of the licence revenue split between it and the GPO. This was to be followed by a simple 10 shillings licence fee with no royalty once the wireless manufactures protection expired; the BBC's broadcasting monopoly was made explicit for the duration of its current broadcast licence, as was the prohibition on advertising. The BBC was banned from presenting news bulletins before 19.00 and was required to source all news from external wire services. Mid-1925 found the future of broadcasting under further consideration, this time by the Crawford committee. By now, the BBC, under Reith's leadership, had forged a consensus favouring a continuation of the unified broadcasting service, but more money was still required to finance rapid expansion. Wireless manufacturers were anxious to exit the loss making consortium with Reith keen that the BBC be seen as a public service rather than a commercial enterprise.
The recommendations of the Crawford Committee were published in March the following year and were still under consideration by the GPO when the 1926 general strike broke out in May. The strike temporarily interrupted newspaper production, with restrictions on news bulletins waived, the BBC became the primary source of news for the duration of the crisis; the crisis placed the BBC in a delicate position. On one hand Reith was acutely aware that the Government might exercise its right to commandeer the BBC at any time as a mouthpiece of the Government if the BBC were to step out of line, but on the other he was anxious to maintain public trust by appearing to be acting independently; the Government was divided on how to handle the BBC but ended up trusting Reith, whose opposition to the strike mirrored the PM's own. Thus the BBC was granted sufficient leeway to pursue the Government's objectives in a manner of its own choosing; the resulting coverage of both striker and government viewpoints impressed millions of listeners who were unaware that the PM had broadcast to the nation from Reith's home, using one of Reith's sound bites inserted at the last moment
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a situation in which a government is empowered to perform actions that it would not be permitted to do. A government can declare such a state during civil unrest, or armed conflict; such declarations alert citizens to change their normal behavior and orders government agencies to implement emergency plans. Justitium is its equivalent in Roman law—a concept in which the senate could put forward a final decree, not subject to dispute. States of emergency can be used as a rationale or pretext for suspending rights and freedoms guaranteed under a country's constitution or basic law; the procedure for and legality of doing so vary by country. Under international law and freedoms may be suspended during a state of emergency. All rights that can be derogated from are listed in the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights. Non-derogable rights cannot be suspended. Non-derogable rights are listed in Article 4 of the ICCPR; some countries have made it illegal to modify emergency law or the constitution during the emergency.
Constitutions are the private individuals of that country. The International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights is an international law document signed and ratified by states. Therefore, the Covenant applies to only those persons acting in an official capacity, not private individuals. However, States Parties to the Covenant are expected to integrate it into national legislation; the state of emergency must be publicly declared and the Secretary-General of the United Nations and all other States Parties to the Covenant must be notified to declare the reason for the emergency, the date on which the emergency is to start, the derogations that may take place, with the timeframe of the emergency and the date in which the emergency is expected to finish. Although this is common protocol stipulated by the ICCPR, its monitoring Committee of experts has no sanction power and its recommendations are therefore not always followed. Though uncommon in democracies, dictatorial regimes declare a state of emergency, prolonged indefinitely for the life of the regime, or for extended periods of time so that derogations can be used to override human rights of their citizens protected by the International Covenant on Civil and political rights.
In some situations, martial law is declared, allowing the military greater authority to act. In other situations, emergency is not declared and de facto measures taken or decree-law adopted by the government. Ms. Nicole Questiaux and Mr. Leandro Despouy, two consecutive United Nations Special Rapporteurs, have recommended to the international community to adopt the following "principles" to be observed during a state or de facto situation of emergency: Principles of Legality, Notification, Time Limitation, Exceptional Threat, Non-Discrimination, Compatibility and Complementarity of the Various Norms of International Law. Article 4 to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, permits states to derogate from certain rights guaranteed by the ICCPR in "time of public emergency". Any measures derogating from obligations under the Covenant, must be to only the extent required by the exigencies of the situation, must be announced by the State Party to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The European Convention on Human Rights and American Convention on Human Rights have similar derogatory provisions. No derogation is permitted to the International Labour Conventions; some political theorists, such as Carl Schmitt, have argued that the power to decide the initiation of the state of emergency defines sovereignty itself. In State of Exception, Giorgio Agamben criticized this idea, arguing that the mechanism of the state of emergency deprives certain people of their civil and political rights, producing his interpretation of homo sacer. In many democratic states there are a selection of legal definitions for specific states of emergency, when the constitution of the State is in abeyance depending on the nature of the perceived threat to the general public. In order of severity these may include: Martial law when civil rights are restricted by the imposition of military force within a Sovereign state, for example during a period of extreme threat of invasion or actual hostilities by foreign forces state of siege when the civil rights of specified persons or groups such as political activists are to be curtailed, for example to prevent an insurrection or organised acts of treason by suspected agents provocateurs civil emergency dealing with disaster areas and requiring the deployment of extraordinary resources to contain dangerous situations such as natural disasters or extensive malicious property damage such as may occur during rioting or by arson.
As well as regular emergency services sometimes military forces may be assigned to deliver aid under dangerous conditions or to prevent looting Sometimes, the state of emergency can be abused by being invoked. An example would be to allow a state to suppress
A fatwā is a nonbinding legal opinion on a point of Islamic law given by a qualified jurist in response to a question posed by a private individual, judge or government. A jurist issuing fatwas is called a mufti and the act of issuing fatwas is called iftāʾ. Fatwas have played an important role throughout Islamic history, taking on new forms in the modern era. Resembling jus respondendi in Roman law and rabbinic responsa issued fatwas served to inform Muslim populations about Islam, advise courts on difficult points of Islamic law, elaborate substantive law. In times and political fatwas were issued to take a stand on doctrinal controversies, legitimize government policies or articulate grievances of the population. During the era of European colonialism, fatwas played a part in mobilizing resistance to foreign domination. Muftis acted as independent scholars in the classical legal system. Over the centuries, Sunni muftis were incorporated into state bureaucracies, while Shia jurists in Iran progressively asserted an autonomous authority starting from the early modern era.
In the modern era, fatwas have reflected changing political and economic circumstances, addressed concerns arising in varied Muslim communities. The spread of codified state laws and Western-style legal education in the modern Muslim world has displaced muftis from their traditional role of clarifying and elaborating the laws applied in courts. Instead, modern fatwas have served to advise the general public on other aspects of sharia questions regarding religious rituals and everyday life. Modern public fatwas have addressed and sometimes sparked controversies in the Muslim world, some fatwas in recent decades have gained worldwide notoriety; the legal methodology of modern ifta diverges from pre-modern practice so in the West. Emergence of modern media and universal education has transformed the traditional institution of ifta in various ways. While the proliferation of contemporary fatwas attests to the importance of Islamic authenticity to many Muslims, little research has been done to determine how much these fatwas affect the beliefs or behavior of the Muslim public.
The word fatwa comes from the Arabic root f-t-y, whose meanings include "youth, clarification, explanation." A number of terms related to fatwa derive from the same root. A jurist issuing fatwas is called a mufti; the person who asks for a fatwa is known as mustafti. The act of issuing fatwas is called iftāʾ; the term futyā refers to issuing fatwas. The origins of the fatwa can be traced back to the Quran. On a number of occasions, the Quranic text instructs the Islamic prophet Muhammad how to respond to questions from his followers regarding religious and social practices. Several of these verses begin with the phrase "When they ask you concerning... say..." In two cases this is expressed with verbal forms of the root f-t-y, which signify asking for or giving an authoritative answer. In the hadith literature, this three-way relationship between God and believers, is replaced by a two-way consultation, in which Muhammad replies directly to queries from his Companions. According to Islamic doctrine, with Muhammad's death in 632, God ceased to communicate with mankind through revelation and prophets.
At that point, the expanding Muslim community turned to Muhammad's Companions, as the most authoritative voices among them, for religious guidance, some of them are reported to have issued pronouncements on a wide range of subjects. The generation of Companions was in turn replaced in that role by the generation of Successors; the concept of fatwa thus developed in Islamic communities under a question-and-answer format for communicating religious knowledge, took on its definitive form with development of the classical theory of Islamic law. The legal theory of the fatwa was formulated in the classical texts of usul al-fiqh, while more practical guidelines for muftis were found in manuals called adab al-mufti or adab al-fatwa. Fatwas are issued in response to a query, they can range from a simple yes/no answer to a book-length treatise. A short fatwa may state a well-known point of law in response to a question from a lay person, while a "major" fatwa may give a judgment on an unprecedented case, detailing the legal reasoning behind the decision.
Queries to muftis were supposed to address real and not hypothetical situations and be formulated in general terms, leaving out names of places and people. Since a mufti was not supposed to inquire into the situation beyond the information included in the query, queries regarding contentious matters were carefully constructed to elicit the desired response. A mufti's understanding of the query depended on their grasp of local customs and colloquial expressions. In theory, if the query was unclear or not sufficiently detailed for a ruling, the mufti was supposed to state these caveats in their response. Fatwas were solicited by women from all social classes. A mufti could be an obscure scholar, who replied to queries arising in his neighborhood, or, at the other extreme, a famous jurist or a powerful state official; the level of technical detail supplied in a fatwa, such as citations of sources or specification of legal methodologies employed, depended on the technical level of the petitioner.
In theory, a petitioner was supposed to verify the mufti's scholarly reputation, but mufti manuals recognized that it would be difficult for a lay person to do so, advised the petitioner to trust their sense of the mufti's piety and ideally follow the advice o
Reactions to the 2005 French riots
The 2005 French riots led to a domestic and international response. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who has advocated a tough approach to crime and restoring law and order, was a major probable contender for the 2007 presidential election. Success or failure on his part in quelling violence in suburban ghettos may thus have had far-ranging implications. Any action by Sarkozy was to be attacked by the political opposition, as well as by members of his Union for a Popular Movement political coalition who expect to run for the presidency. Le Monde, in a 5 November editorial reminisced about the "catastrophic" elections of 2002 where right-wing candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen managed to enter the second round of voting, showing concern that a similar situation might arise in the upcoming elections as a backlash to the riots. After the fourth night of riots, Sarkozy declared a zero tolerance policy towards urban violence and announced that 17 companies of riot police and 7 mobile police squadrons would be stationed in contentious Paris neighborhoods.
Sarkozy has said that he believes that some of the violence may be at the instigation of organized gangs. "... All of this doesn't appear to us to be spontaneous", he said. Undercover police officers were sent to identify "gang leaders, drug traffickers and big shots." Sarkozy's approach was criticized by left-wing politicians who called for greater public funding for housing and job creation, refraining from "dangerous demagoguery". Sarkozy was further criticized. During his visit to Clichy-sous-Bois, the Interior Minister was to meet with the families of the two youths killed, but when a tear gas grenade was thrown into the Clichy mosque, the families pulled out of the meeting. Bouna Traoré's brother Siyakah said, "There is no way we're going to see Sarkozy, incompetent. What happened in the mosque is disrespectful." The families met Prime minister Dominique de Villepin on 3 November. The left-wing newspaper Libération cited the exasperation of suburb youth at the harassment by the police and Interior Minister Sarkozy.
The declaration of a pupil's parent that "Torching a school is unacceptable, but the one who put on the fire is Sarkozy" was reported throughout the French press, including in the conservative newspaper Le Figaro. Azouz Begag, delegate minister for the promotion of equal opportunity, made several declarations about the recent unrest, opposing himself to Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy for the latter's use of "imprecise, warlike semantics", which he says cannot help bring back calm in the affected areas. On November 5, Paris prosecutor Yves Bot told Europe 1 radio that "This is done in a way that gives every appearance of being coordinated." Some Aulnay-sous-Bois residents, as reported by Reuters, suspect that the riots were linked to the drug trade or coordination by Islamic fundamentalists. Meanwhile, other Aulnay-sous-Bois residents interviewed considered this unjustified. Jérémie Garrigues, 19, doubted. "If those kids had been organized, they would have done much worse -- they would have used guns and bombs against the town hall and the prefecture", he argued.
"Those are all politicians' theories", remarked an Algerian woman named Samia, whose main concern was how frightened her children were by the unrest. "We live here in reality." Jean-Marie Huet, director of criminal affairs and graces, after visiting an artisanal factory of molotov cocktails, said that "this is not spontaneous trouble anymore". No one has yet established that there should be any sort of underground organisation". Muslim leaders of African and Arab communities in France have issued a fatwa, or religious order, against the riots, without many effects. "It is forbidden for any Muslim... to take part in any action that strikes blindly at private or public property or that could threaten the lives of others", said the fatwa by the controversial Union of Islamic Organisations of France, favored by Nicolas Sarkozy. The BBC reports that French society's negative perceptions of Islam and of immigrants have alienated some French Muslims and may have been a factor in the causes of the riots.
The BBC questioned whether such alarm is justified, citing that France's Muslim ghettos are not hotbeds of separatism and that "the suburbs are full of people desperate to integrate into the wider society." Upon his nomination as Interior Minister, populist hardliner Nicolas Sarkozy promised to lead both a strict policy of zero tolerance against underground crime, promote law and order, to promote social integration of the rejected. His actions are criticised because of his use of television and the media. This, along with the relaxing of rules allowing the deportation of foreign offenders, his declarations of support for positive discrimination and the participation of legal immigrants in local elections, has angered some suburban residents. However, Nicolas Sarkozy was the one to propose to expel all foreigners involved in the riots, which amounted to reinstate the "double penalty", a decision, criticized, for example by NGO SOS Racisme. On Wednesday, October 19, Sarkozy announced a crackdown on urban violence and black marketeers, ordering specially trained police to tackle 25 neighbourhoods across the country.
Sarkozy went there and declared he wanted to "clean out the
Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité
The Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité, abbreviated CRS, are the general reserve of the French National Police. They are involved in general security missions but the task for which they are best known is crowd and riot control. There are 60 "general service" CRS companies, specialized in public order and crowd control, nine "motorway" companies specialized in highway patrol in urban areas and six "zonal" motorcycle units Two additional companies and several mountain detachments administratively attached to local companies specialize in Mountain Rescue. One company specializes in VIP escort; the National Police band is a CRS unit. Some of the CRS officers from the "general service" compagnies are cross trained and serve as lifeguards on the beaches during the summer vacations; the expression "les CRS" refers to the whole force. While "une CRS" means a company "un CRS" means "a CRS man"; the CRS were created on 8 December 1944. The CRS are a civilian corps, trained in antiriot techniques; the CRS saw their first serious action during the 1947 strikes in France.
Communist sympathisers were present in the ranks of some of the early companies. The French Communist Party took on the role of opposition to postwar governments. On 12 November 1947, there was a demonstration in Marseilles called by the communist union CGT and the French Communist Party. CRS detachments were created in some of the French overseas territories in 1950; the Guadeloupe and Réunion detachments were transformed into companies during the early 1960s but these were disestablished in the 1990s. Up to sixteen additional companies were created in Algeria during the Algerian War of Independence and disestablished at the end of the conflict. CRS equipment and organization have evolved in phases. A major change in equipment followed the May 1968 demonstrations. During the 1990s, the equipment continued to evolve and the CRS were re-equipped with smaller vans to better adapt the companies to the urban environment; the "general service" companies, together with the mobile gendarmerie, constitute a mobile reserve force for the government.
Their missions include: Providing security during large public events and mass gatherings such as ceremonies, sport events, festivals and demonstrations Patrolling and securing specific areas Maintaining law and order during demonstrations, riot control Reinforcing local police forces in their general security missions 1 Central Directorate under a Director-general of the National Police in Paris 7 Zonal Directorates 60 "General Service" Companies 1 VIP Escort Compagny 9 Autoroute Companies 6 Zonal Motorcycle Units 2 Mountain Companies - specialized in Mountain Rescue The National Police Band Some of the CRS officers are cross trained and serve as lifeguards during the summer season. They enforce applicable laws on the beaches; the CRS are based in barracks but, contrary to the gendarmes, they live at home when not on the road. A company spends more than 200 days per year away from its base town. Most of the "general service" companies have a headquarters platoon and four line platoons each, a few companies having a sixth platoon or SMS equipped with special crowd/riot control equipment such as water cannons).
A complement of a regular company is as follows: 1 Company commander with the rank of Police Commandant. 1 Police Captain 2 Police Lieutenants 1–4 Brigadiers-Major 12–25 Brigadiers-Chief 100–120 officersCRS vehicles The suppressive role and occasional abuse of force by the CRS towards protesters or school children has led to criticisms among human rights supporters. There have been a number of complaints against CRS officers on the subject of racism and racial profiling; the two French anti-riot forces, the CRS and the Gendarmerie Mobile are mistaken for each other, as some of their missions are similar, but they can be distinguished by uniform. The uniform of the CRS is blue; the CRS wear their helmets sport yellow bands. In January 2009, the French state implemented a rapprochement of the gendarmerie. While this policy falls short of a complete fusion or merger, as the gendarmes have kept their military status, this has led to more commonality in terms of equipment for the two forces. Robert Le Texier, Les Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité, éditions Lavauzelle, Paris-Limoges, 1981.
Maurice Agulhon and Fernand Barrat: C. R. S. À Marseille 1944-1947 6 Armand Collin, Paris 1971. Jean-Louis Courtois, CRS au service de la nation, C/O Crepin-Leblond, novembre 2004. La Direction centrale des compagnies républicaines de sécurité, CRS page on the French National police website History of the CRS
2007 French presidential election
The 2007 French presidential election, the ninth of the Fifth French Republic was held to elect the successor to Jacques Chirac as president of France for a five-year term. The winner, decided on 5 and 6 May 2007, was Nicolas Sarkozy; the first round of voting took place on Saturday 21 April 2007 and Sunday, 22 April 2007. As no candidate obtained a majority, a second round between the two leading candidates, Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal, took place on Saturday 5 May and Sunday, 6 May 2007. Sarkozy and Royal both represented a generational change. Both main candidates were born after World War II, along with the first to have seen adulthood under the Fifth Republic, the first not to have been in politics under Charles de Gaulle; the first round saw a high turnout of 83.8% – 36.7 million of the 44.5 million electorate voted from a population of 64.1 million. The results of that round saw Sarkozy and Royal qualify for the second round with Sarkozy getting 31% and Royal 26%. François Bayrou came third and Jean-Marie Le Pen fourth, unlike in 2002 when Le Pen got a surprising 16.9% and qualified for the second round.
After the first round's results were made official, four defeated left-wing candidates – José Bové, Marie-George Buffet, Arlette Laguiller and Dominique Voynet – urged their supporters to vote for Royal. This was the first time since 1981. Olivier Besancenot called his supporters to vote against Sarkozy. Frédéric Nihous and Gérard Schivardi never supported either Royal or Sarkozy. Philippe de Villiers called for a vote for Sarkozy. Le Pen told his voters to "abstain massively" in the second round. On 25 April, Bayrou declared he would not support either candidate in the runoff, announced he would form a new political party called the Democratic Movement, he criticised both major candidates, offered to debate them. Royal agreed to hold a televised debate, while Sarkozy offered to have a private discussion but not a televised debate. By around 6:15 pm local time on 6 May and Swiss news sources such as Le Soir, RTBF, La Libre Belgique and La Tribune de Genève had announced Nicolas Sarkozy as the winner of the second round, citing preliminary exit poll data.
The final CSA estimate showed him winning with 53% of the votes cast. Royal conceded defeat to Sarkozy that evening. Nationwide, Nicolas Sarkozy obtained 31% and Ségolène Royal 26% – while in 2002, Jacques Chirac had obtained 20%, Lionel Jospin 16.18%. The right-of-centre François Bayrou obtained 18.6 % this time. National Front candidate, Jean-Marie Le Pen, made only 10.4%, compared to his stunning 16.9% finish in 2002. Along with the April–May shift to the far right made by Sarkozy, this has led many commentators to allege that traditional voters of the FN had been tempted by Sarkozy. On a global scale, the left-wing reached 36% of the votes, against 19% for the "centre", 33% for the right wing and 11% for the far right. Other candidates received a much lower share of the vote than they had in 2002, with Olivier Besancenot failing to achieve the 5% necessary to have his political campaign reimbursed by the state. Besancenot received 4.1%, compared to 4.3% in 2002. He was followed by the traditionalist Philippe de Villiers, Communist Marie-George Buffet, Green candidate Dominique Voynet, Workers' Struggle's candidate Arlette Laguiller, alter-globalisation candidate José Bové, Frédéric Nihous and Gérard Schivardi with 0.3%.
The abstention rate was 15.4%. With an overall record turnout of 83.8%, a level not achieved since the 1965 presidential election when turnout was 84.8%, the vast majority of the electorate decided not to stay home. Most of them decided against protest votes, chose the vote utile, that is, a vote for one of the purported leaders of the electoral race; the "Anyone But Sarkozy" push benefited both Bayrou and Royal, while the tactical voting, on the right or on the left, explains the low score of the other candidates, in contrast with the last presidential election's first round. The electoral campaign saw a polarisation of the political scene, encapsulated by the "Anyone But Sarkozy" slogan on the left, but it saw a reconfiguration of the political chessboard, with various left-wing figures and voters deciding to support Sarkozy against Royal, who saw opposition inside her own party. Bernard Tapie, a former Socialist, Max Gallo, who had supported left-wing Republican Jean-Pierre Chevènement in 2002, Eric Besson, etc. passed on Sarkozy's side.
On the other hand, some right-wing voters, upset by Sarkozy's attitude on law and order and genetics, decided to vote for Bayrou. Centrist figures of the Socialist party, such as Michel Rocard and Bernard Kouchner, called for an alliance between Bayrou and Royal, which might have had consequences in the June 2007 legislative elections – these determined the parliamentary majority, decided that France would not see another cohabitation between the President, head of state, the Prime minister, leader of the governmen
Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the "indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations." As a philosophy, secularism seeks to interpret life on principles taken from the material world, without recourse to religion. In political terms, secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institution and religious dignitaries. Under a brief definition, secularism means that governments should remain neutral on the matter of religion and should not enforce nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, leaving religious choice to the liberty of the people. One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Another manifestation of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs or practices.
Secularism draws its intellectual roots from Greek and Roman philosophers such as Zeno of Citium and Marcus Aurelius. It shifts the focus from religion to other ‘temporal’ and ‘this-worldly’ things with emphasis on nature, reason and development; the purposes and arguments in support of secularism vary widely. In European laicism, it has been argued that secularism is a movement toward modernization, away from traditional religious values; this type of secularism, on a social or philosophical level, has occurred while maintaining an official state church or other state support of religion. In the United States, some argue that state secularism has served to a greater extent to protect religion and the religious from governmental interference, while secularism on a social level is less prevalent. On the other hand, Meiji era Japan maintained that it was secular and allowed freedom of religion despite enforcing State Shinto and continuing to prohibit certain "superstitions; the term "secularism" was first used by the British writer George Jacob Holyoake in 1851.
Holyoake invented the term secularism to describe his views of promoting a social order separate from religion, without dismissing or criticizing religious belief. An agnostic himself, Holyoake argued that "Secularism is not an argument against Christianity, it is one independent of it, it does not question the pretensions of Christianity. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, act forever. Secular knowledge is manifestly that kind of knowledge, founded in this life, which relates to the conduct of this life, conduces to the welfare of this life, is capable of being tested by the experience of this life."Barry Kosmin of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture breaks modern secularism into two types: hard and soft secularism. According to Kosmin, "the hard secularist considers religious propositions to be epistemologically illegitimate, warranted by neither reason nor experience."
However, in the view of soft secularism, "the attainment of absolute truth was impossible and therefore skepticism and tolerance should be the principle and overriding values in the discussion of science and religion." The departure from reliance on religious faith to reason and science marks the beginning of the secularization of education and society in history. Among the earliest documentations of a secular form of thought is seen in the Charvaka system of philosophy, which held direct perception and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, sought to reject the prevailing religious practices of that time. According to Domenic Marbaniang, Secularism emerged in the West with the establishment of reason over religious faith as human reason was liberated from unquestioned subjection to the dominion of religion and superstition. Secularism first appeared in the West in the classical philosophy and politics of ancient Greece, disappeared for a time after the fall of Greece, but resurfaced after a millennium and half in the Renaissance and the Reformation.
He writes: An increasing confidence in human capabilities and progress, that emerged during the Italian Renaissance, together with an increasing distrust in organized and state supported religion during the Reformation, was responsible for the ushering of modernity during the Enlightenment, which brought all facets of human life including religion under the purview of reason and thus became responsible for the freeing of education and state from the domination of religion. Harvey Cox explains that the Enlightenment hailed Nature as the "deep reality" that transcended the corrupted man-made institutions of men; the rights of man were not considered as God-given but as the de facto benefits of Nature as revealed by Reason. In political terms, secularism is a movement towards the separation of government; this can refer to reducing ties between a government and a sta