France and Britian Differ in Approaches to Secularism

January 23, 2004

Source: Expatica

On January 23, 2004 Expatica ran an Agence France Presse article that reported, "As a proposed ban on Muslim headscarves in schools provokes both outrage and approbation in France, education professionals in Britain say their country's tradition of religious tolerance is based on "radically different" values which can't simply be transferred to the other side of the English Britain, where multiculturalism is officially embraced,...symbols of a student's religious heritage are not taboo, and diversity is encouraged...while the French constitution draws a clear line between church and state, there's no such distinction in Britain...'The British have a radically different idea of secularism; it's a concept that doesn't have any real meaning in the United Kingdom,' said Philippe Fatras, a school inspector from the well-heeled Paris suburb of Versailles. 'Our system is founded on the Enlightenment philosophy of an integrating nation,' Fatras said. 'To belong to the nation, you have to stick to its values.'"