Religious signs, images and symbols are prohibited in public places in France. National banning of sacred representations started to make headlines worldwide as the administrative court ordered the removal of a statue of Virgin Mary in the town of Publier in Eastern France. Since 2011 the statue was placed in a shore that overlooks Lake Geneva and has been in place in a public park but early this month, it has been a subject of controversy since it was against the ongoing French rules regarding religious matter.
A court issued an order to the town officials to take away the statue within three months. If it wasn't removed, a fine of 100 euros (£80; $105) per day will be collected. The town mayor, Gaston Lacroix, is trying to find solution not to abandon the marble statue by relocating it on a private land. The mandate of its removal has bombarded the netizens to criticize the order. According to Inquirer.net, "The statue was subsequently sold to a religious cultural association which was not, however, allowed to buy the parcel of land it stood on, meaning it remained on public property and therefore in breach of French rules regarding religious symbols."
France is one of the world's most secular nations and has a strong belief that separation of religion and public life should be implemented. French secularity, Laïcité, is the non-attachment of religious participation in government decisions. The government is also not involved in any religious affairs. In line with this, the resort town of Cannes was the first to ban a swimwear called "burkini" as part of its commitment to follow the rule. It is a full-body swimwear used by Muslim women. Those who violates will have to fine 38 euros. In 2010, the country also ban wearing of full Muslim veil in public places.
According to France 24, "France is currently struggling to balance its cherished value of secularism - which dates back to a 1905 law on the separation of church and state - with an increasingly multicultural society that includes the largest Muslim population in Western Europe at 7.5 percent. A series of attacks perpetrated by both immigrants and French nationals who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group has only fueled debates over integration and the place religion occupies in French society."
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