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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 16:15 GMT
Judge suspends crucifix verdict
Italian classroom
The law on crucifixes in schools dates back to the 1920s
An Italian judge has suspended a court order that would remove crosses from schools after the education ministry filed an appeal against the decision.

The original order to take down the Christian symbols came in response to a complaint by a Muslim leader.

It caused widespread outrage in Italy, with politicians and Church leaders denouncing the decision.

On Friday, the Pope weighed in, saying that taking down religious symbols could cause instability and conflict.

"The recognition of the specific religious patrimony of a society requires the recognition of the symbols that qualify it," he told a meeting of political leaders of European Union police forces.

Taking them down "in the name of an incorrect interpretation of the principle of equality" could lead to "instability and even conflict", the pontiff said in Rome.

Fascist-era law

Catholicism plays a large role in Italian life, but the country is legally a secular state.

A Fascist-era law, however, requires the cross to be displayed in state schools.

HAVE YOUR SAY
In state schools there is no place for one religion over another
John, France

The law has never been repealed.

Last week, a judge in the central Italian town of L'Aquila upheld a complaint by Muslim leader Adel Smith, who petitioned for a cross to be removed from his son's school.

He had earlier asked for an Islamic symbol to be displayed alongside the crucifix, but the request was denied.

Moderate Italian Muslims have distanced themselves from Mr Smith, who leads the small Muslim Union of Italy.

On Friday, a court granted a temporary injunction against the order to take school crosses down.

A new hearing has been scheduled for 19 November.


SEE ALSO:
Should crosses be banned from classrooms?
27 Oct 03  |  Have Your Say
Storm over Italy crucifix ruling
26 Oct 03  |  Europe
Italy looks to migrants
21 Mar 00  |  Europe


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