Crucifixes 'violate educational freedom'

A EUROPEAN ruling banning crucifixes in Italian schools should be overturned, nine European governments said in an appeal yesterday.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled last year that crucifixes in Italian public schools violated religious and education freedoms. Italian courts have previously ruled that the display of crucifixes is part of national identity and not an attempt at conversion, an argument expanded by New York University legal scholar Joseph Weiler on behalf of the governments of Italy, Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, San Marino, Romania and Russia, which are appealing the ruling.

"The democratic cohesion of society is dependent on the ability to uphold national symbols around which all society can coalesce," Mr Weiler said. "It would be a strange (if Italy] had to strip from its cultural identikit any symbol that also had a religious significance."

The case was brought by a mother who said schools in her Italian town refused to remove crucifixes from classrooms.

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