Confusion reigns over government vision of a secular France


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Ever since the terror attacks in January, the issue of 'secularism' – the separation of church and state - has been at the heart of a debate about the nature of French society. President François Hollande and prime minister Manuel Valls refer to it frequently when they discuss their ideas of how people should “live together” in France. The problem is, however, that no one in government has really defined just what the limits and scope of secularism are. The result is that the government’s official stance on the issue has been vague, pulled in different directions by contradictory statements and actions. In other words, the government has appeared just as divided on this fundamental question as the Left in general, other political movements, the National Assembly and wider society.