by Elaine Kennedy Dubourdieu
On the other side of La Manche / The 'English' Channel, lies France. So near, yet so far... and always so very foreign.
After centuries of religious conflict, France now leans on Laïcité, a multi-facetted, emotionally charged concept, difficult to translate, but which implies the complete separation of the church / religion and its secular state.
For some, Laïcité is the new religion and guiding force, and it certainly holds one of the keys to understanding France today.
A French friend went on holiday to Malta and came back fuming: "It's scandalous!" he said, "there are crosses and religious symbols hanging in all of their town halls. How can this be tolerated?"
Coming at Laïcité from a tangent, this book hopes to entertain and enlighten, by considering some of the unexplored highways and byways of this surprising, secular state.