Skip to content
Opinion
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

'Secular' Is a French Word for 'Anti-Muslim'

French President Emmanuel Macron can't achieve his economic policy goals with policies that alienate Muslims.
His policies could backfire.

His policies could backfire.

Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis/Bloomberg

When France’s National Assembly passed a rule last month banning members of parliament from wearing or displaying religious symbols, many shrugged that it was in keeping with the country’s long tradition of strict state secularism. Instead, the ban — or rather the radical thinking behind it — has become a major obstacle to peacefully integrating immigrant communities.

In supporting the new ban, former prime minister Manuel Valls insisted it was the natural continuation of a long tradition of church and state separation in France. Valls’s view represents the consensus view of French political and cultural elites. It is also demonstrably false.