Republicans eventually carry the day and, in particular, create the secular school in 1882. But one of them, Emile Combes, defends a control over the cults and put up a strong resistance to religions. In 1902, whereas he is the head of the government, 2500 catholic schools are close. This caused that the Vatican broke off diplomatic relations with France in 1904 and the Condordat lapses. The nation is then deeply divided and the situation becomes explosive.
In 1905 the issue of the separation of church and state is the opportunity of heated debates in the National Assembly. Emile Combes and his supporters defend a ‘laicite’ that would eliminate religion from the public space and control the cults. While other Republican congressmen led by Aristide Briand, defend a law of compromise respectful of individual freedoms and strictly separating the state and the cults. Briand’s vision eventually carried the day and the parliament vote by a majority. The adopted text is a soothing act that ends a century of conflict. The laique republic rests on four pillars that flow from this law of 1905, the Declaration of Human Rights et Citizens and the constitution of 1958. The pillars are freedom, separation of the churches and the state, neutrality of the state and egality.
Citizens are free to believe or not believe, to change religion and to have none, the can express it at home but also in public space within the limits of the respect of public order. They are therefore free to wear a veil or a cross in the street, a kippah to vote for mayor, or a Sikh turban in the subway.
Separation churches and the state
Cults are not involved in state management and law only emanates from the people. Conversely, the state does not interfere in the internal organization of worship.
Neutrality of the State
It concerns the agents of the State and public service but not its users. For example, police officers, judges or teachers should show no affiliation. But neutrality does not mean indifference. The Minister of Interior may maintain relations with representatives of cults.
All citizens are equal before the law and public service regardless of their beliefs. In fact, secularism allows everyone to freely express his convictions, when they respect the law and others.
However, the secular Republic remains firm, both against the fundamentalist excesses against the law but also against those who call hatred of religions and believers.
In 2004, a law prohibits public schools and high schools students from wearing symbols or clothes by which they ostensibly manifest a religious affiliation. However, students can wear religious symbols as long as they are discret. This law aims to preserve children from the pressures, including pressures of their peers, so they can make their own choices. But it does concern private schools or universities whose students are adults. It does not concern the parents or outsiders.
In addition to that, in 2010 a law causes confusion. It prohibits people from ‘hiding their face’ in the public space, in order words to wear a full veil, a motocycle helmet, balaclava, etc. But this law is not based on the principle of laicite it was written in an objective of ‘security and public order”.
Qu’est-ce que la laïcité ? | Gouvernement.fr
Comprendre la laïcité en France en trois minutes (lemonde.fr)