Don't miss




A tiger in Paris

Read more


French women speak out about sexual harassment, but what happens next?

Read more


Zimbabwe: Emmerson Mnangagwa pledges to revive failing economy

Read more


Video: FRANCE 24 meets foreigners fighting with Kurds in Syria

Read more

#TECH 24

Energy Observer: The world's first hydrogen-powered boat

Read more


The best winter exhibitions

Read more

#THE 51%

Shortage of male heirs leads many Japanese families to adopt adult men

Read more


Death of an icon: Remembering fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa

Read more


Black Friday deals: Are they really worth it?

Read more


A quirky, insider’s guide to understanding France and the French, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Thursday at 1.45 pm.

Latest update : 2016-01-21

Understanding 'laicité': The ins and outs of state secularism

FRENCH CONNECTIONS – Thurs. 21.01.16: This week we take a closer look at a concept that is fundamental to life in France: "laicité". Quite literally it’s translated as secularism, the separation of church and state, but France’s brand of secularism is quite particular and controversial.

A product of French philosophy and history, "laicité" was signed into law in 1905. The Law on the Separation of the Churches and State requires the government to remain neutral in terms of faith, while at the same time safeguarding everyone’s freedom to practice their own religion.

Concretely, religion is banned from state matters and public schools. But the application of secularism in practice is subject to some controversy. Critics say state secularism is too extreme and is increasingly used to stigmatize Muslims. Meanwhile, proponents say laicité allows us to live together in harmony and protects our freedom.



2017-11-23 smoking

Is France a chain-smoking nation?

When you think of a stereotypical French person, you often picture them puffing on a cigarette. Is France a chain-smoking nation? While the number of smokers has dropped since...

Read more

2017-11-16 Gay marriage

Gay rights in France: After marriage equality, what's next?

In 2013, same-sex marriage and adoption became legal in France but key issues remain unresolved. The main sticking point today concerns "medically assisted procreation",...

Read more

2017-11-09 French culture

French Lit 101: Exploring France's vibrant book culture

Literature holds an important place in the French cultural landscape. Many authors have superstar status and the mainstream media often relays literary news, particularly the...

Read more

2017-10-26 pollution

A car-free Paris: Nightmare or dream come true?

For Paris to remain a postcard city, must it become a "post-car" city? That’s what Mayor Anne Hidalgo thinks. She recently outlined her plan to crack down on pollution in the...

Read more

2017-10-19 women's rights

#balancetonporc: Sexual harassment and gender inequality in France

The scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein in the US sent shockwaves around the world. Here in France, it has revived a debate on sexual harassment and male predation, particularly...

Read more