The French are fighting these days. No, it isn’t another revolution. No one is storming the Bastille. Instead, they’re participating in a fiery “grand debate,” ignited by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposed decree that would ban anyone, especially students, from wearing religious symbols of any kind. Although it originally was aimed particularly at forbidding Muslim women from donning head scarves, the law is broad enough to ban any “ostentatious” religious symbol, including the Star of David or the cross.
Sarkozy’s theory is that the French people are being divided and distracted by a myriad of diverse religious expressions. They’re no longer focused on their shared identity of being French but instead are putting their individual beliefs before their nationality. The emphasis, Sarkozy claims, should be on being French first, secular second and religious a distant third, at best (but probably not at all).
Put aside religious...
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