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Euro Court: Crucifixes Violate Freedom

From the UK’s Guardian:

Human rights ruling against classroom crucifixes angers Italy

European court of human rights rules crucifixes that hang in classrooms violate religious and educational freedoms

John Hooper in Rome

November 3, 2009

There was uproar in Italy today over a ruling by the European court of human rights that the crucifixes that hang in most Italian classrooms are a violation of religious and educational freedoms.

The seven judges, whose decision could prompt a Europe-wide review of the use of religious symbols on public premises, said state schools had to "observe confessional neutrality".

Except on the far left, the ruling met with condemnation among Italian politicians and was denounced by the Vatican. Silvio Berlusconi’s education minister, Maria Stella Gelmini, said: "No one, not even some ideologically motivated European court, will succeed in rubbing out our identity."

A Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, said the crucifix was a fundamental sign of the importance of religious values in Italian history and culture, and was a symbol of unity and welcoming for all of humanity, not one of exclusion.

A European court had no right intervening in such a profoundly Italian matter, he said, adding: "It seems as if the court wanted to ignore the role of Christianity in forming Europe’s identity, which was and remains essential."

The ruling marked the end of an eight-year battle by a Finnish-born mother, Soile Lautsi. She took her cause to court after failing to get crucifixes removed from the school at which her two children were being taught at a town in north-east Italy.

Lautsi appealed to Strasbourg three years ago when her case was thrown out by Italy’s constitutional court.

Although more than 7% of Italy’s population is now of immigrant origin, multiculturalism has made few inroads and most Italians argue passionately, as did their government’s advocate in Strasbourg, that the crucifix is a symbol of national identity.

The court disagreed. "The presence of the crucifix could easily be interpreted by pupils of all ages as a religious sign, and they would feel that they were being educated in a school environment bearing the stamp of a given religion," it ruled, ordering the Italian state to pay Lautsi €5,000 (£4,476) in damages.

Classroom crucifixes were made compulsory by two laws in the 1920s when Italy was a fascist state.

They have been applied less rigorously since 1984, when Catholicism ceased to be the state religion.

One government minister, Roberto Calderoli, of the Northern League, said yesterday: "The European court has trodden on our rights, our culture, our history, our traditions and our values."

Claudio Scajola, a member of Berlusconi’s Freedom People party, said: "The crucifix is a universal symbol of love, meekness and peace. Preventing it from being displayed is an act of violence against the deep-seated feelings of the Italian people and all persons of goodwill."

The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, said he was flabbergasted. And the new, ex-communist leader of Italy’s biggest opposition group, the Democratic party, Pierluigi Bersani, protested: "An ancient tradition like the crucifix cannot be offensive to anyone."

On the Facebook website, 23,000 people signed up to two pages opposed to the court’s decision within hours of the news breaking.

The government’s lawyer said he would seek leave to appeal to the Strasbourg court’s 17-member Grand Chamber. If his petition is rejected, or if an appeal is subsequently thrown out, then Italy would be obliged to comply.

They made their bed. Now they have to lie in it.

Still, isn’t there a little irony in this coming from a body that calls itself a "court of human rights"

Isn’t freedom of religion a human right?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Euro Court: Crucifixes Violate Freedom”

  1. beautyofreason says:

    But let me guess…the crescent moon and small star are fine, eh? Or the hammer and sickle.

    I’m being facetious, of course, but there is a double standard.

    In a public school in 2002, I was in a social studies class that invited a local Muslim to pass out a copy of the Koran (published in Saudi Arabia) to everyone, and he spent the hour describing his faith and giving a lot of inaccurate information about the positive treatment of women (he said Mohammad married a businesswoman who was twice his age – he never mention that the so-called prophet had over a dozen wives including war widows and a 9-year-old girl).

    This same man also described, with a chuckle, how figurative painters would go to hell after being given a test on judgment day to make a picture come to life.

    I can assure you there was no comparative Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, or any other religion brought in for similar show and tell.

    This took place in a public school in Florida, 2002. Keep that in mind lest we take the route of Europe.

  2. Reality Bytes says:

    The Crucifixion Guaranteed Freedom!!! Oh when will they ever learn.

  3. imnewatthis says:

    Every day, in both hemispheres, the socialistic one-worlders are steamrolling over everyone and everything. But at least some are putting up a fight, and we all have to do what we can.

  4. Confucius says:

    Are these judges vampires?!

  5. wardmama4 says:

    I’m sorry if this offends anyone – but you would think that the Jews (WWII) would stand up against this crappola or that the muslims (the crusades) would also stand up against this crappola – but alas rather than studying history and learning from it – I fear that this is a ‘now the uppity Christians will get theirs’ moment – rather than a real dread of some euphemistic ‘panel/council/court’ deciding what is right and what is wrong.

    Christians of the World must unite against this – or we will be the next holocaust.

    And again, I’m sorry if this offends anyone.

    • Reality Bytes says:

      Apologies don’t apply! WE WILL CUT OFF THE HEADS OF THESE INFIDELS!!! What’s that? Lutherans don’t do that? Oh…never mind.

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