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Quebec ‘not alone’ in commitment to secularism, says French Prime Minister Attal

MONTREAL — French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal expressed strong support today for Quebec’s model of state secularism, a policy that has been criticized by the Canadian government.

Attal told a news conference with Quebec Premier François Legault in Quebec City that France shares the province’s commitment to religious non-affiliation.

The 35-year-old prime minister says secularism is a way for governments to guarantee equal treatment of citizens regardless of personal beliefs.

Quebec’s secularism policy includes a 2019 law that bans many public sector employees including teachers and judges from wearing religious symbols — legislation that critics say discriminates against religious minorities.

Secularism is also a foundational principle for France, where it is illegal to wear face-covering veils in the street.

Attal said that despite his support for Quebec’s secular values, he did not discuss the matter in a meeting this week with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government has indicated that it would participate in a challenge to the 2019 law in Supreme Court.

The French prime minister is scheduled to travel to Montreal this afternoon to participate in panels on the economy before he ends his three-day trip to Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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