Religion was dictated on the premise of what one wore and ate amidst other things under the Taliban way of living. Most, if not all, of us agree to its absurdity. Religion is so much more than these two things and maybe it is the shallowness of intellect or the lack of intellect altogether of these aggressively primitive individuals that is to blame. That too, most of us can agree to.

And yet, we see the same things haunting a country much more advanced and intellectual than these tribesmen in Afghanistan. France has a rich history of revolutions and resultant evolutions. It is a country that has had its struggles and was brave enough to face the wrongs of its past. In retrospect, theirs have been a remarkable journey and it should remain so.

And the rightists are doing the exact opposite. First Sarkozy comes up with the useless hijab ban that tainted France world over as a bigoted state. The response of the muslims, who constitute a significantly large portion of the community was France’s saving grace. And yet, the courts moved in favour of the government and the ban became law.

Now we have the rightists parties, mainly belonging to or influenced by the National Front, indeed one of the most popular party in France coming up with ideas like the non-pork ban. For now this is applicable in schools across regions that are under their control but if 2017 elects Mariane Le Pen as the leader, the ban could be applicable across the country.

In my conversation with some French people, I have been emphasised, very strongly so, that the policies of National Front and in some cases the Union for a Popular Movement, do not reflect what the common Frenchman or Frenchwoman feels. They insist that NF, for example, exaggerates statistics and tends to create this aura of populism and hence gain momentum in their fandoms. And yet, I insist, what allows such naivety to persist in the first place? In this time and age, should believing in exaggerated statistics even be an option? Of course not.

The problem lies in the murkiness of the concept of Laïcité. According to official documents, Laïcité guarantees all citizens, regardless of their philosophic or religious opinions, to live together with freedom of thoughts, freedom to “practice” a religion, or freedom to “not practice” any religions, all this within the context of the French motto of liberté, égalité, franternité which stand for equality of rights , equality of duty, and republican fraternity. As a piece of constitution, it looks beautiful but as it is with these legislative documents, the application is a lot more difficult than the idea.

Take the hijab ban for instance. France, as a state, believes that you have your complete right to practice your faith as long as it remains within the bounds of your personal proximities. A Christian, a Jew and a Muslim can enjoy their faith within these bounds. However, as the tread outside, these distinctions need to disappear. The word ‘distinction’ is important here. The reason why they implement these laws is to unify the nation under the umbrella of one particular identity. Hence, without any marks or symbols, the lay Frenchman and Frenchwoman become a mere French citizen. This again is a wonderful idea but does this not go against the principles dictated by the Laïcité in the first place? How is this freedom to celebrate religion if you have such impositions? This was the argument put forth by a muslim French woman last year in front of the European court which eventually ruled against her.

The court justified it’s ruling by stating that it was not a ban on the religious act but instead on the act of covering the face. According to the French state, the face played an important role in social interaction and covering it hindered the workings of the society at large.

It’s the French’s playground and hence it’s their rules. However, it does bring to question how there is a lot at stake here. The conservative right have now imposed a no-pork food ban in schools under their influence. In these schools, there will be no separate menus for the Muslim and Jew populations on days when the cafeteria is serving pork. This, according to the decision makers, would help eliminate distinctions within the society. That, in this form, as would anyone understand, is an insanely ignoble pursuit. It has undertones of bigotry in it, one that stems out of anti-immigration resentment and racism. However, what differentiates this from other relatively less bigoted acts imposed or at least considered by the state decision makers. As mentioned before, it’s a murky affair and there is no line that draws the boundaries for these pursuits.

Can we relate Charlie Hebdo as an escape of a societal bottled rage? Probably not. But, we cannot and must not forget that civilians are not armies. For them, rules are not a code but a guideline. They’re less impressionable and more rebellious. That is, in all honesty, as human as human nature gets. France needs to come to terms with that lest it ends up permanently debilitates the society it is trying so hard to build.