Freedom of Religious Expression


To provide some background, the government of France has attempted to align itself with concept of laïcité, a constitutional guarantee that means there should be no mixing of religion and the state. Though the most recent iteration of this was implemented in 1905 in the French law on separation of church and state, secularism in France has had a long history with regard to the relationship between the government and the Catholic Church. Indeed, such concepts were important during the French Revolution when an end to the Church’s domination of the state was pursued aggressively. Today, however, the concept of laïcité can actually be very anti-religion in its implementation.

This is manifested in the 2004 headscarf ban. Essentially the bill, signed into law by President Jacques Chirac on March 15, 2004, banned the wearing of “conspicuous” religious symbols in public primary and secondary schools. While some Muslims may see the…

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