Hijab ban, but half-mast flags for Pope: Chirac’s ‘selective secularism’

“The French government ordered yesterday that flags on all public buildings be flown at half mast for the death of the Pope yesterday and was immediately accused of breaching the country’s secular principles…. France is so concerned about separating church and state that last year it passed a law banning Islamic headscarves and other signs of religious faith from public schools…. France’s main teachers’ union, Unsa, said the government was being ‘selectively secular’ in asking headteachers to lower school flags.”

Guardian, 5 April 2005

See also “Marseille city workers given time off for Pope”, AFP, 5 April 2005