In December of 2007 during a trip to Rome, the president of France made an appeal for a "positive secularity." Benedict XVI called the president's wording a "fine expression" when he visited France the following year.
President Nicolas Sarkozy is now looking at another nuance of this secularity. He wants a national debate to examine "laïcité" and how it relates to Islam -- an issue expected to carry weight in the nation's 2012 elections.
Muslims make up perhaps as much as 10% of France's population of nearly 65 million. And according to Sarkozy, the growing presence and influence of Islam in France is not something to be ignored.