Normally, this blog is not about religions, politics... But, for once and with what has happened here recently, I would like to take the opportunity to say how happy I am to live in a free, secular, country like France, more particularly in Paris, La Ville Lumière / The City of Lights...
The secularism, "laïcité" in French, the separation of religion and state, is for me something which in today's world should be obvious. This involves acceptance of all religions, but none being compulsory. Few states (and religions) have until now accepted this, fully or even partly! However, "laïcité" is a must for democracy!!
There are still strong religious feelings in some French communities. What these communities and their members must learn and accept is that such feelings are private, individual, and especially - their own beliefs must not be imposed upon others. Here, in France, we live together in a democratic state, not under any particular religion. It's all about the defense of secularism and at the same time a struggle against religious fanaticism, of any religion. This includes of course the right to be non-religious!
Also, and again more generally speaking, I believe it's time - and the"Charlie Hebdo" event may hopefully give the push - for some religious leaders to do some self-appraisal and seriously consider the meaning of tolerance and the need to adapt to today's society! A complication is of course that Islam is split and has no clear leader, no "pope" or "archbishop" who speaks for the entire religion.
... and I would like to recommend them - and others - a re-reading of Voltaire's "Treatise on Tolerance" (1763).
"The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man." (Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen)
"Imagine... You may say I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one, I hope some day you will join us, And the world will live as one." (John Lennon)
Maybe nothing to directly do with this, but...
Something I really appreciate with the city - and the street where I live - is that, turning to the right or to the left when I go out, I will within a minute or two reach everything I need to survive … and a bit more:
I can find uncensored books, newspapers, magazines... I can find food from all countries... I will meet people of all origins...
This is what the street looks like in the evening. Many shops remain open till late, not neglecting the bars and restaurants.