French Court Bans Nativity Scene

Officials in the western French town of La Roche-Sur-Yon have had to dismantle a nativity scene, in the latest row over France’s secular traditions.

A judge in Nantes ruled that it was a “religious emblem” and incompatible with the French principle of “religious neutrality in public spaces”.

Town officials have reluctantly removed a figure of baby Jesus, plaster animals and a desk-sized stable they had erected in the local council building.

A local senator denounced the ruling.

France’s strict secularism laws mean that religious symbols are banned from public spaces such as schools, hospitals and local councils.

Secularism was a founding principle of the French Republic and was enshrined in a 1905 law separating Church and State.

“This decision is grotesque,” said Senator Bruno Retailleau in a statement. “Next we’ll be banning epiphany cakes at the Elysee Palace.”

He also argued that it was unfair as in Paris the mayor hosted a dinner celebrating the Muslim month of Ramadan every year.

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