Paris on Tuesday brushed off a US State Department report that criticised France for banning Muslim women from wearing full veils.
"Our conception of secularism is a common heritage of all French people, which implies rules that encourage social harmony in the public space and in public schools," said a foreign ministry spokesman.
In its 2011 International Religious Freedom Report, the State Department complains about a "rising number of European countries, including Belgium and France, whose laws restricting dress adversely affected Muslims and others".
The French spokesman noted that France and its neighbours were seeking to define "more structured European Union policies to defend freedom of religion in the world".
See also "US report criticises French Islamic veil ban", France 24, 1 August 2012