Keyword: Jean-Louis Bianco

Defining the troubled notion of secularism in France

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Jean-Louis Bianco is head of France’s Secularism Monitoring Centre, a public body that advises public institutions, local authorities and the private sector, among others, on the country’s laws on secularity and their application. Amid an increasingly tense political debate over multiculturalism in France, the legislation has rarely been so fiercely championed - but also brought into question. To address the misunderstandings by both camps, Bianco travels France each week to discuss the principle and the detail of the law with various sections of the population. Mathieu Magnaudeix followed him on one such trip to a small town in north-east France.

Confusion reigns over government vision of a secular France

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Just like the Left in general, and indeed many political parties in France, the government is divided over the key issue of secularism and its precise scope in French society. An example of this confusion is the forthcoming Parliamentary bill on religious neutrality in privately-run crèches which will be considered by the National Assembly on May 13th. President François Hollande and most of his government are opposed to the measure, even if it appears prime minister Manuel Valls might be more favourable. Yet after a backroom deal with political allies, MPs from the ruling Socialist Party appear committed to voting through the measure despite their own divergent views on the subject. As Lénaïg Bredoux reports, the resulting lack of clarity is a prime example of François Hollande's style of government.