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President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of an officially secular republic, hailed France's Christian heritage Thursday as his right-wing party questioned Islam's role in society.
Sarkozy's speech in the Catholic pilgrimage town of Puy-en-Velay came one month before France is due to formally begin a ban on the wearing of full-face Muslim veils in public places and amid controversy over religious identity.
Critics of the president and his majority party, the centre-right UMP, have argued against stirring dangerous prejudices and endangering France's strictly secular identity by calling for a national debate on religion....
"Christianity left us a magnificent heritage of civilisation. As a secular president, I can say that... ...this heritage is a privilege, but it presents us above all with a duty: It obliges us to pass it on to future generations, and we should embrace it"
How does a "secular" nation and society, "embrace.... (Christian heritage) and pass it on to future generations?"