A 15-year old Muslim girl in France has been banned from school for wearing a long black skirt. That's anathema to the nation's cult of secularism. An official said it was not the skirt that was the issue. Rather, because she wore it as a sign of her faith. Are we at that point in Western history where one's motive for wearing a certain piece of clothing is of greater importance than the clothing itself?
She was ordered to wear "neutral clothing." Does that mean mini-skirts and hot pants? Would the government object if a Paris fashion house introduced The Muslim Look?
Much of the current situation stems from idolatry of the state. Its current manifestation, secularism, tends to eliminate personal freedom, as in the case of this young woman. France has a poor record in this regard. The search for a national persona continues. How about something yet untried -- a tolerant and accommodating secularism?
Canada should launch an immigration program in France designed for Muslims. Advertising would read: "Come to Canada. Come as you are. You will be welcomed (except in Quebec)."
In her book "Belonging," former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson wrote, "True secularism means the acceptance of many beliefs, not the eradication of them all."
We should all work towards a balance between extreme freedom of expression which sews the seeds of violence and extreme criticism of religion which demeans personal belief. Life entails a balancing of interests, a compromise.