Marine Le Pen Claims that “Positive” Laïcité has Benefited Islam

National Front vice-president Marine Le Pen has offered her reflections on what President Nicholas Sarkozy has termed “positive secularism.” On the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to France, Le Pen noted, “I have battled against positive secularism, but for reasons other than those I have seen in the newspapers in the last few days.” Le Pen adds that Sarkozy has sought to place Islam on equal footing with Islam, but that “Islam is not on par for historic reasons, it has been given a lot of attention because of the massive immigration to France in the last 30 years.” Le Pen believes that this interpretation of secularism works to bolster Islam in France to the detriment of others.

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Nicolas Sarkozy Defends the Notion of “Positive French Secularism”

French president Nicolas Sarkozy recently defended the notion of “positive secularism” which allows place for religion in the public sphere. While Sarkozy has not introduced any real reform, making the statement in speeches in Rome in December 2007 and in Riyad in January 2008, the suggestion has created fierce debate. In the past Sarkozy has read the 1905 law separating Church and State broadly, notably in allowing the new construction of religious spaces for Muslims and in the controversial creation of the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith) in 2003.

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