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pretending to be religion-neutral

There's no pretending. The French laicité was explicitly built in a decades-long fight against the catholic church.

I don't know why this is so hard to understand. The fight today was successfully waged against the other religions in the past. What's done today is consistent with French history in that respect.

Sure, Sarkozy is playing this for other reasons - but it does fit in a long national tradition, which is why you find so much support for some of his proposals, even if many are appalled by the short term intent and the messages it throws out.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 07:18:42 AM EST
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My "pretending to be religion-neutral" was meant to be a reference to Sarkozy, not to the French in general, though on second thought I realize that he might not even bother to pretend.

My point was that a headscarf ban would be impossible to introduce in a way that would not affect the Catholics as well. An attempt to ban the headscarf in places where it is not currently banned would affect nuns as well, and risk yet another fight with the church. Having a fight with the church over this might actually be a good way to convince the Muslims that they are not being singled out, but I just can't see Sarkozy doing that.

by gk (gk) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 07:37:36 AM EST
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Contrary to popular (but false) belief, there's no such thing as a "headscarf ban" in France today, not even in the works.

What is banned as of today are: "ostentatious religious signs" and in one place only: Public schools (K-12, not sure about higher ed).

This applies to the big wooden cross, the Sikh turban, Catholic nuns headscarf & dress, Catholic priests cassock, and yes, of course, the so-called "Islamic headscarf. Again: on public schools premises only; elsewhere in public places it's (still) free-for-all.

How this has been translated into a broad based "headscarf ban" may be more indicative of successful propaganda than actual fact checking: your opinion is as good as mine on this one.

Interestingly, the law being proposed by the parliamentary commiseration would make illegal covering one's face in public places, like hospital, administrations, etc...

So, under this scheme, full body veil would still be a-OK, but face masks would have to go; burqa would be banned as well. Interestingly, Catholic nuns dresses and scarves would also be OK, outside of public schools.

by Bernard on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 09:04:08 AM EST
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Actually, that's exactly what I was referring to (like you, I wasn't sure about the details of exactly which schools were affected). But this ban doesn't bother the Catholics, as their nuns probably don't teach there anyway. Even extending the ban to private schools would involve yet another fight with the Church.
by gk (gk) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 09:15:06 AM EST
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Interestingly, the law being proposed by the parliamentary commiseration would make illegal covering one's face in public places, like hospital, administrations, etc...

So, no biohazard suits in hospitals and public places?... I guess firefighters will be banned, too...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 09:54:48 AM EST
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