Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

In France, Marois applauds Hollande’s supportive remarks on secularism

Quebec Prime Minister Pauline Marois takes leave of French President François Hollande at the end of their meeting at the Elysée Palace in Paris on Dec. 17, 2013.


An expression of support for secularism by the French President was greeted enthusiastically Tuesday by Premier Pauline Marois, whose government is trying to ban obvious religious symbols from the public service.

Francois Hollande said secularism and bans on religious symbols are the best way for a society to live together.

While the French President didn't give overt support to Quebec's proposed charter of values, his remarks indicated a shared view that Marois gleefully accepted.

Story continues below advertisement

Quebec's charter, which would forbid public-sector employees from wearing such symbols as the hijab, has been hotly debated since it was raised earlier this year. The proposed legislation will go before public hearings early next year.

Hollande made the comments after a 45-minute meeting in Paris with the Quebec Premier.

Hollande said the French experience since 2004 has showed that bans on overt religious symbols has helped to ease tensions in pluralist societies such as France and Quebec.

On Friday, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault made similar comments, which was like "music to the ears" of the Quebec Premier.

Marois was hard-pressed to contain her joy at Hollande's remarks although she hesitated to interpret them.

She did say France had been an inspiration to her.

The meeting with Hollande came on the fifth day of the premier's economic mission to Paris, Monaco and Brussels.

Story continues below advertisement

Hollande said he would like to visit Canada and Quebec.

Marois said she hopes the visit can be combined with a trade mission that would strengthen Quebec and France's ties.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at