French town ordered to remove Virgin Mary statue from public park or face punishment

France has some of the world's strictest secular laws 

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The Independent Online

A French town has been ordered to remove a statue of the Virgin Mary which was publically funded and sits on municipal land.

Despite having a strong Catholic contingent, France has some of the strictest secular laws in the world and displaying religious symbols in public is banned. 

The statue was erected in 2011 to much controversy in the eastern town of Publier - there was no council debate on it going up in a public park. 

The statue was later bought by a religious group but it has remained in public. Now, if it stays there, the town will be fined €100 per day. 

Publier’s mayor, Gaston Lacroix, has said he will try to have the statue moved to private land. 

The decision, made by a local administrative court, was criticised by right wing politicians, including Front National’s Jacques Clostermann, who said it represented a “new tyranny”. 

In France,the separation of the church and state is deeply ingrained in society. 

Full face veils, such as niqabs and burqas, worn by some Muslim women were banned in 2010, making France the first European country to pass such strict measures. 

More recently, some French Riviera towns imposed bans on women wearing 'Burkini' costumes on their beaches. However, the rules were later overturned in the courts. 

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