Flying the flag of secularism: What's behind Macron's Republican values bill?


What's behind France's Republican values bill? First announced amid a fresh wave of terror attacks in the autumn, compounded by the gruesome beheading of a middle school social studies teacher, what was originally billed as a law against religious separatism is making its way to the floor of the National Assembly.


Amendments from the left and right show that the fault lines over defending laïcité, France's state sponsored brand of secularism, do not follow traditional left-right divides. They still raise thorny issues though: Does the bill target Islam? Does it stifle critical thinking when it comes to laïcité? Is it too invasive? On that score, we ask why an article that places curbs on home schooling has become the most contentious. 

More broadly, now that we are a little over a year away from a presidential election, how is the tone of the conversation evolving? With polls showing the far right narrowing the gap with Macron, does this bill help the incumbent and how much will identity politics play on the campaign trail?

>> French MPs approve bill to combat Islamist extremism

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz.

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