"The Republic neither recognises, nor salaries, nor subsidises religion"
. In that sentence, in the 'Law concerning the Separation of Church and State', is summed up the French government's official policy towards religion. Known internationally as 'laïcité', that policy is 100 years old today.
Over the past century, successive French governments have tried to portray hard secularity as being a republican cause, but that is far from the truth. Until the passing of the law, the state funded four established religions, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Judaism. Even to this day, two parts of France (French Guiana and Alsace-Moselle) are exempt from the law for historical reasons. Given the French approach of uniformity, those exemptions prove that either laïcité is not fundamental, or it isn't being applied properly.
The law, though, does not quite put the four 'traditional' French religions on the same level as other, more recently-established, religions. The 1905 law nationalised all existing church buildings and synagogues, which remain in state hands to this day. This is a subsidy in all but name. Any buildings built more recently are not subsidised in this way, and many thousands of French mosques fall into this category. This seemingly preferential treatment has led to resentment amongst Muslims, inflamed by racial issues, poverty, and more infamous laïcité laws, such as the so-called 'hijab ban'.
If France is really determined to keep its policy of laïcité, it should either return its pre-1905 churches to the respective religious groups, or nationalise mosques (and others) to give them equivalent status. And, whatever it does, it should be enforced across the entire country. If it doesn't do either, the Republic will no longer be able to claim that it neither recognises, nor salaries, nor subsidises religion.