Pine Trees, fir trees, Old Happy New Year and more ... Everyone was happy in Paris on New Year's Day 2015, ready for a great year, but in the morning of January 7, 2015, two French radical extremist brothers, born from Algerian emigrants to France, killed 11 staff members of a French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo (hebdo is short for "hebdomadaire" meaning weekly.) Then they executed a Muslim policeman outside the building. A friend of the two terrorists above, a French citizen born from an emigrant family from Mali, terrorized a Jewish kosher supermarket in Paris and killed 4 hostage. This tragedy was shown on television internationally and written up in most newspapers. I do not have a picture of the Charlie Hebdo building but below is a mural painted by Philippe Rebuffet on the wall of the Theatre Comedie Bastille located on the same block, a number 5 Nicolas Appert Street (courtesy Paris dans mon Oeil and the picture of the Hypermarche cacher is from French Wikipedia (photo by JJ Georges.) In the collage above, top right, is the French flag flown in Toronto, Canada, in solidarity and memory of the victims. Bottom left are tricolor pencils in the pocket of the Premier of Romania, and on the right people marching in Atlanta, Georgia.
Peter's Paris blog said "laicite is a must for democracy!!...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!" see his post here . This means that candidates don't mention their religion when seeking office, don't swear on the Bible when taking office, and the President does not say "So help me God" after taking the oath of office like in the US. It also means that atheists can hold office (seven US states still prohibit non-believers to hold office in their states.) There is no "In God we trust" on the money like on the dollar bills, no "a nation under God" as in the US pledge of allegiance, and no "In God we trust" as on the state of Georgia motor vehicle license plates. The separation is total - the French state is neutral.