La Flotte-en-Ré has not said its last word and intends to continue the legal fight so as not to have to dismantle the statue of the Virgin dating from 1945. The town announced on Tuesday March 22 that it was going to appeal the decision of the administrative court of Poitiers which gave him six months to move the statue installed on the public domain, judging that this contravened the law of separation of the Church and the State.
→ REREAD. On the island of Ré, a statue of the Virgin will have to be moved in the name of secularism
The municipal council of La Flotte-en-Ré, 2,800 inhabitants, decided on Monday evening ” unanimously “ to appeal the judgment rendered on March 3 by the administrative court of Poitiers. Justice had estimated that this white statue of the Virgin, enthroned in the middle of a crossroads, constituted “a primarily religious symbol” which had no place on the public domain of the municipality.
For a “tolerant” reading of secularism
La Libre Pensée 17, an association for the defense of secularism, had seized the court to demand this withdrawal, invoking the law of 1905 which prohibits the installation of monuments of a religious nature on the public domain. A “ridiculous controversy”according to Mayor Jean-Paul Héraudeau who maintains that the building has precisely “not a solely and totally religious character” and which advocates a reading “tolerant” of the principle of secularism.
“At La Flotte, there are green shutters and the Virgin, it is part of our historical heritage. It is more of a memorial than a religious statue”, assures the chosen one. He intends to produce new evidence in court showing that the plot in question would be “partially private”.
The statue of discord, which bears the mention “War Vows”, was made in 1945 for a family grateful to see a father and son return alive from World War II. First exhibited in a private garden, it was then donated to the municipality, which installed it in 1983 at this crossroads.
Thousands of supporters
But in the spring of 2020, the statue was damaged after being hit by a motorist. The municipality then decided to rebuild it identically, in the same location. From a banal accident arises an appeal. “There would not have been this accident, we would not be there”annoyed the mayor.
The aedile claims to have “received thousands of calls and letters of support, even from abroad”. On the Internet, the petition for ” save the statue » collected more than 28,000 signatures, more than ” the population of the Ile de Ré, since we are 17,000″.