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Crucifix ban overturned

May 2011

Crucifix ban overturned

A European court has ruled that schools are allowed to put crucifixes up in classrooms, as this does not infringe on people’s human rights.
    The higher chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) overturned a 2009 ruling, when a parent, Soile Lautsi, took a case against the Italian state, claiming that crosses on the walls of schools infringed the principle of secularism.
    In 2009, the lower court of the ECHR had upheld her case and determined that crucifixes should not be displayed in classrooms because they could be ‘disturbing’ for students who were of other religions or atheists.
    The Alliance Defence Fund’s legal counsel Roger Kiska welcomed the decision, saying, ‘The ECHR shouldn’t overstep its authority and force a member nation to abandon traditions and beliefs that it has a sovereign right to protect if it so chooses.
    ‘An outside judicial body demanding that a nation must forsake millennia-old traditions is a step towards an authoritarian system that no country anywhere should welcome’.
    The Alliance warned that the ruling was important, as, had the higher court upheld the 2009 decision, it could have acted as precedent to remove religious symbols from state schools across Europe.
    The ruling is binding on all 47 countries that are members of the Council of Europe.

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