Old Tradition of Secularism Clashes With France’s New Reality - NYTimes.com
The law of 1905, said Roger Cukierman, the director of the Representative Council of French Jewish Organizations, “was an agreement in a Christian country among mainly Christians,” long before the influx of Muslim workers and their families, but it recognized Judaism.
While laïcité meant keeping religion in the private domain, “it’s more and more difficult because the Muslim minority is requesting the ability to pray every few hours and to have halal food, including in private enterprises,” Mr. Cukierman said.
Voltaire wrote that religion was on a diminishing road, but it has returned with a vengeance, said Dominique Moïsi, a French political scientist. “Laïcité has become the first religion of the Republic, and it requires obedience and belief,” Mr. Moïsi said. “But I care more for democracy than for the republic,” he said. “To play Voltaire in the 21st century is irresponsible.”