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France, secular and increasingly diverse, struggles with separation of Islam and the state
by Elaine Ganley
Riots broke out over a full-face Islamic veil. A woman may have lost her unborn baby in another confrontation over her face covering. Tensions flared over a supermarket chain's ad for the end-of-day feast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
France's enforcement of its prized secularism is inscribed in law, most recently in a ban on wearing full-face veils in public. Meant to ensure that all faiths live in harmony, the policy instead may be fueling a rising tide of Islamophobia and driving a wedge between some Muslims and the rest of the population.
Yet ardent defenders of secularism, the product of France's separation of church and state, say the country hasn't gone far enough. They want more teeth to further the cause that Voltaire helped inspire and Victor Hugo championed, this time with a law targeting headscarves in the work place.
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