Franck Frégosi, director of research at the CNRS and author of Penser a l’islam dans la laïcité (Fayard, 2008) (“Considering Islam Within French Secularism”) claims that the French have “lost their habit of being confronted with religions which are not relegated to the private sphere”.
Frégosi explains that there are old fears in Western Europe which stem back to the initial encounters between Muslims and Christians. He notes that in Europe today, with the pressures of globalization and immigration, there is a new strain around identity which is emerging.
Frégosi notes that while the Qur’an does not discuss secularism, neither do the Gospels. He argues that the goal should not be to find notions of French secularism in the revealed text but to rethink the tradition more generally in this context.