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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Wicca veterans seek grave symbols
The pentacle - a five-pointed encircled star - is an important Wicca spiritual symbol
The pentacle is an important Wicca spiritual symbol
Wiccans in the US are taking the government to court over its refusal to allow their symbol on gravestones in military cemeteries.

Relatives of dead soldiers, including one killed in Iraq, are demanding that Wicca symbols be permitted.

Some 38 other religious symbols, including the Jewish star of David and the Buddhist wheel, are allowed.

The Pentacle, a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, is one of the most important symbols in Wicca.

'Discriminatory delay'

Wicca, which originates in Europe, is inspired by ancient pre-Christian practices.

It is recognised by the US military as an official religion but military veterans are not allowed to display the symbol on their graves.

"The federal government's discriminatory delay in approving these applications must end," said Daniel Mach, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.

"There is no good reason to deny grieving families the solace and comfort available to military families of other religions," he said.

One of soldiers whose family is seeking to use the symbol is buried in Washington's Arlington National Cemetery.

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