François COLL

Universidad Complutense of Madrid

 On Monday, Ocotber 27, the ceremony of the “International and National Laïcité/Secularism Awards 2014” was held in one of the most prestigious salons of the Hôtel de Ville de Paris (headquarters of the council of the French capital).

Hôtel de Ville

Presiding over the ceremony was Patrick Kessel , who I would like to pay special tribute for his tireless efforts to lead the République Laïcité Committee, one of the main French organizations which has not forgotten that secularism remains a national and international priority. Next to him was Pierre Bergé, widely-known as the co-founder of the prestigious French brand Yves Saint Laurent, but also distinguished as the founder of the République Laicité Committee and, above all, activist and defender of secularism and human rights. I can’t forget to mention the most socialist politician friend of secularism, Mr. Jean Glavany, member of the organization and noted expert on issues related to the theme of Church – State separation. The presentation was given by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, who, as she often does , gave an elegant speech claiming her Spanish roots and stressing the necessary separation of Church – State as a coexistence in a democratic society .

Patrick Kessel

The International Award was presented to Shoukria Haidar, president of the association DENY ,which supports the women of Afghanistan. The National Award was given to French businessman, Jean Luc Petit Huguenin, who has implemented a “Letter of Secularism ” in the course of his business. Catherine Kintzler and Henri Pena-Ruiz, both great figures of contemporary French philosophy received the two final Special Awards.

All award winners were praised for their efforts in highly-emotional speeches of appreciation (which the reader will find on the website of the committee: ) which alo delivered a really important message in a world where secularism is in danger, and where there is still much to think and do.

As a French-Spanish dual citizen, I would personally like to make mention and congratulate Henri Ruiz Peña, for his moving speech and emotional evocation of the missing  Spanish Second Republic.

Peña Ruiz