The freedom to beg

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

Begging in the city bothers people and provokes heated debate. We interviewed a philosophy professor and religious leaders to find out why begging is such a problem in our society.

They are an inescapable part of the urban landscape. Beggars have always existed, but the phenomenon is sometimes accompanied by organized gangs that no longer have anything to do with battered lifestyles. Recently, Luxembourg City Council decided to ban certain forms of begging in the city center, a move echoed by other tourist cities in Europe. It's a way for politicians to fight human trafficking, but also to make these places more attractive to tourists. The poor are thus kept out of city centers.

Beyond the political aspect, the banning of begging in the public space poses various problems, particularly of an ethical nature. As Dietmar Heidemann, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Luxembourg, points out: "It's basically an ethical problem, of course. It's not a new problem, and we've known about it since ancient times. But history right up to the present day really confronts us with one of the most fundamental challenges. It's about freedom of thought, freedom of movement in the public space. And then, of course, the dimension of coercion. Can the city or the public authority, whoever it may be, interfere with someone's individual freedom, which is preserved, let's say, at least at the highest level, so to speak, by European legislation? Can a public authority, be it the municipality of Luxembourg, the ministry or even an international body, intervene in such a way that the individual right is respected?"

You want more? Get access now.

  • One-year subscription

  • Monthly subscription

  • Zukunftsabo for subscribers under the age of 26


Already have an account?

Log in