French President Hollande tells Marois secularism eases social tensions

PARIS – 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.

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.

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.




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French President Hollande tells Marois secularism eases social tensions

  1. Monaco? What ties do we have to Monaco?

    • They speak French there. Yah, I know, that’s a pretty weak link. But then so is Marois.

      • French is spoken in a lot of places. Why not visit a region with the world’s fastest growing economy: sub-Saharan Africa? At least Hollande is focused on helping places like the Central African Republic. He doesn’t let taxpayers pay for his vacations.

        A Quebec leader on a European vay-cay grovelling for legitimacy or ‘recognition’ is such a 20th Century cliché. So parochial. Terrible optics. Quite pathetic, indeed.

        Damn, does this country ever hunger for leadership.

        • I agree. Except Quebec isn’t a country and never will be one.

          • Never insinuated that that it is.

            However, they are getting closer. Mostly due to a lack of federal leadership. Haper permitting Quebec to join UNESCO, and destroying the national gun registry. Harper and the Liberals providing no federal leadership to address climate change, inter-provincial trade, highspeed rail, slashing cultural funding.

            The Official Opposition are really the only truly federal party at this point.

  2. Yeah sure. Minorities are so happy in France they only riot every other year.

    What a pair of morons.

  3. Rioting in the suburbs around Paris is by something other than tensions apparently.

    • Of course, I meant to say caused by something other than tensions.

  4. I lived in Paris suburbs for my first 25 years. This law did not ease anything. Integration is still not going that well for people who come from Africa (sometimes two or three generations ago) and moreover who still live in the suburbs. I now live in Canada and the difference in integration is striking. French people should embrace multiculturalism and the sharing of common values. They do not.
    BTW Hollande is one of the most unpopular president we ever had, he has no credibility.
    Quebec is following the wrong path.

    • Also I did not say I am against secularism. I am just against these populist laws which are just targeted at a small group of people in order to gain more power like Marois is doing.

  5. I would suggest the opposite, that secularism actually increases social tensions by the failure to accommodate others of the non-majority persuasion.

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