Interesting article by M. G. Oprea in the Federalist.
The French have long held to the ideals of universalism and laïcité (or strict secularism). This dates back to the French Revolution, when revolutionaries were seeking a way to give all people equal access to the state in order to avoid favoritism. They felt that to avoid unfair treatment or discrimination all citizens needed to be seen as absolutely equal. Acknowledging differences between them would be discriminatory.