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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 11:03 GMT
Should crosses be banned from classrooms?
A court decision to order a state kindergarten to remove crucifixes from its classrooms has caused controversy in Italy.

The ruling by a judge in the central town of L'Aquila, following a complaint by an Italian Muslim leader, has re-opened a bitter debate about religious symbols.

The judge ruled that crucifixes on classroom walls showed "the unequivocal desire by the state, when it comes to public education, to place the Catholic religion at the centre of the universe", disregarding other religions.

Do you agree with the decision? Or could it inflame tensions between faiths?


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

I think there should be no crucifixes in the classrooms. Its no problem for me that children learn about the Christian religion but if so then why not to learn about all religions. They should know other point of views to become more tolerant and to retard conflicts. I grew up in Poland with the crucifixes in the classrooms but now I live in Germany. I was told in the school to love all human beings but on the other hand I heard that the other religions are dangerous. Generally each religion can be dangerous.
Bozena , Germany

Crosses bearing idols of Jesus breach the First Commandment as does worship of Jesus' mother and should be banned everywhere. As a Christian I wear an empty cross to remind me there is no death, that I am free and I have promised to treat others as I would like to be treated. All symbols are personal and should not be backed by government organisations, especially schools. Jesus directed we pray at home, in privacy. If all followed his advice, there would be no churches with their power to exert power, gather wealth and manipulate gullible and superstitious people.
Lionel Hurst, Australia

This is clearly a problem of intolerance of the host country by an outsider, Mr Smith the Muslim leader has also called for the removal of a 15th century Christian Fresco in Bologna Cathedral on the grounds that it shows the prophet Mohammed This man is absolutely determined to ignore the fact that as a immigrant he should respect the culture and customs of his new adopted land.
Yan Michek, Switzerland

The cross simply says, "Truth will set you free." It is thus the perfect symbol for what we call an education. It shows us the cosmic relationship between truth and sacrifice. But it is more that just a symbol. It is a guide that helps us find meaning in notions like equality, democracy, love and it beckons us to love our neighbours as one. It is a guide to peace. Who would dare take it down?
Taeho Paik, Italy

Why should my children be confronted daily with a quite macabre symbol of one particular religion?
Andrea, Italy (currently UK)
As an Italian I'm very happy about the judge's decision, it's about time the crucifixes get removed from state schools, and I know many other Italians who think the same. It's only unfortunate the case was brought up by a Muslim because this gives crucifix supporters an easy excuse to blame "foreigners" for destroying Italy's culture. This has nothing to do with culture, as a non religious Italian I demand crucifixes to be removed from any state building too, they belong in churches! Why should my children be confronted daily with a quite macabre symbol of one particular religion that is loosing support fast in Italy anyway?
Andrea, Italy (currently UK)

Yes! They should be banned in all 'State' schools and establishments. In a 'Religious' school of whatever faith, and where there are clear alternative schools where pupils can be sent, then they should be allowed. This gives the choice of 'Education and Indoctrination' to the parents of the pupils. 'Religion' should also be taken out of any school curricula. If any parent wants their offspring to be educated in a 'religious' way then let them go to the nearest appropriate religious establishment, be it a Christian on or for any other religion.
B W Moore, NE UK

I think that everyone is missing the real reason behind the banning of the crucifix. Islam, Judaism and Christianity (in its true Aramaic form) strictly forbid the use of idols, pictures etc depicting what Prophets looked like. This is primarily to stop the practice of idol worship which many modern day Christians are accustomed to. The crucifix in the past has been used as a tool by the Missionaries to 'tame the savages' into believing that Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) was a Blonde-Haired, Blue-Eyed European rather than a Palestinian. Muslims are opposed to the depiction of the Prophet Jesus in this way. They are not opposed to the fact that they are being misrepresented in the classroom!
E Malik, UK

As a Roman Catholic, I am shocked that one guy can change thousands of years of tradition. Italia is a Catholic country and the cross is part of Italia's culture...If Mr. Smith doesn't like to raise his children in a place where Catholics and Catholic symbols are predominant, then he needs to pick up and move to Saudi Arabia or Albania... does it bother Mr. Smith that his children see the crosses on top of all the great churches of Italy? Should we remove all crosses and Church towers around the Catholic world, or should we just put a Muslim symbol on top of each tower next to the Cross to make it to his liking? Should we not offer pork in our stores, because Muslims don't want to see it?
Marko Latinovic, Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

I think that place of crosses and religion is home, church or hearts of believers...
Maciek, Poland
In Poland there are at least 95 % classrooms with crosses. It is really funny and ironic. People don't care about them. They should be removed as should be removed "religion" lesson -- and moved to the church! We've got to learn about other religions too, how to live and understand others. I think that place of crosses and religion is home, church or hearts of believers...
Maciek, Poland

Italy's constitution promises freedom of religion, just as most modern western constitutions do. Religious symbols are not appropriate in government schools.
Christopher C. Tew, USA

Groups come in and want to take over and change centuries of tradition and culture with one shout of discrimination. If you choose to go to another country with a different culture and religion, it is the immigrant who has the responsibility for adapting, not the society itself.
Gianna, USA

I find it extremely depressing to see that, again, the wishes of a few surpass the wishes of the many. Culture and heritage are being erased in order to avoid offending the intolerant.
Shannon Simons, USA

It's common for Christians to feel that this is an act against them, but so would the placing of other religion's symbols next to their own. The use of the crucifix to me is seems a bit like idol worship. My relationship with God is not governed by having pictures laying around, but by the conversations we have.
Wwill Foster, USA

The only option is to keep the state totally secular
Paul Qureshi, UK
If religious symbols are to be endorsed by the state and placed in classrooms, then all religions must be represented. This raises two issues. Firstly, what constitutes a religion? Many people put "Jedi" on their census form, would that mean a light-sabre has to be on the wall too? Secondly, many people would object to, say, Satanist symbols, but they too would have to be displayed. Clearly, the only option is to keep the state and all state operated organisations totally secular. This does not prevent anyone practicing their religion, nor force religion on them.
Paul Qureshi, UK

Like the old saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Obviously, the Muslim leader has never heard this before and does not understand the wisdom behind accepting the cultural aspect of one's adopted country.
Anthony, USA

Don't forget that this man went to court when the school refused to display a symbol from the Koran alongside the crucifix in his children's classroom. So who is being intolerant here? If you're for freedom of religion, let all religions have freedom. If you're for secularism, then ban all religious symbols. People shouldn't use this issue to unfairly attack Muslims yet again when it's clear that the intolerance stems from others.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

I am not very passionate about religion and this issue. However, perhaps a better option would be to add some symbols of other religions and so to acknowledge and invite their contribution to national/local culture rather than pretending none of them counts or exists.
Dariusz, Poland

But I would question why anyone would find this offensive
Jim , NJ, USA
The decision is technically correct because true democracies must be secular. But I would question why anyone would find this offensive. Christ isn't going to jump off that cross and start converting children of other faiths by force. The fact that the plaintiff originally wanted another religious symbol added, rather than the removal of the crucifix, proves he was not motivated by democratic ideals. This is a case of a harmless tradition taken away for childish motives - "If I can't have my way, you can't have yours either".
Jim , NJ, USA

Yes. I agree with the ruling. Christians need to realize that they are just one religion with no more authenticity than any other.
Tom Cunningham, USA

If you go to the beach, the wear a swimsuit. If you're going to a board meeting, you wear a three-piece suit. If you going to school, you're going to study math, literature, biology, and if you want to read the bible, koran, torah or whatever and pray and all that stuff, you go to church, which is where the cross belongs. It's very logical, very simple, and the rule of law. A swimsuit would be out of place in the board room as would a three-piece suit at the beach. Can the cross - it's out of place, and get over it. Let's get on with education our young.
Bobbi Roman, USA

What happens to Christian residents in Muslim countries? Does any Muslim judge dare to ban the half moon or whatever from classrooms in respect of Christians??? Guests must respect the country in which they are hosted, its law and its traditions too. Host countries must surely respect their guests but must respect FIRST their traditions and their native people.
Fabio, Italy

Children should not be indoctrinated with religion. There is enough time when they are adults and more knowledgeable for them to decide if they want to join a religious group. In the meantime, let us keep any kind of religious symbols out of the classrooms of public schools.
Nyakairu, Novi, USA

Like it or not, Europe is the main place where Christianity grew, in the same way the Middle East and Asia is where Islam grew. Hence a lot of Christian symbols here and a lot of Islamic symbols in the Middle East etc. Some largely Muslim countries have crescents on their flags in the same way crosses often appear on European flags. What we need is mutual respect which means Muslims must respect our faith, culture and history in the same way they want us to respect theirs. The judge's decision was wrong because it will only cause resentment not respect.
Fabian, UK

By promoting religious symbols, freedom of religion in a democratic country is curtailed
Jose Nigrin, Guatemala
When any country has a national recognized religion, the result will be the creation of second class citizens, that don't profess this religion, and suffer discrimination in jobs, education, and opportunities for improvements. By promoting religious symbols, freedom of religion in a democratic country is curtailed in favour of the main official credo.
Jose Nigrin, Guatemala

In public schools absolutely. In religious ones, no problem.
Leduc Jean-Francois, Bangkok Thailand

What business does a crucifix have in a classroom to begin with? If you want to teach your children about a religion, go for it; however that has nothing to do with public schooling. If I were a school teacher and decided that I would like to have a statue of Ganesh, I think I might get a little flack about it, so why should a crucifix be allowed?
Mike, USA

As long as the teacher does not try to convert the children to a particular faith, we should not take away the right to free speech and beliefs.
Gareth Giles, England

I think the cross should have stayed on the wall. I would suggest, if the man disagrees with the symbol as much as that, then he take his children to a kindergarten that does not outwardly show it's moral standpoint and not enforce oppression upon the other 99% of class attendees
Callum W, UK

Many contributors are missing the point. Italy is a secular state, therefore the separation of state and religion (unlike the majority of Muslim countries that profess nothing of the sort - the comparative argument thus being moot). The kindergarten being state run had no authority to place a Catholic religious symbol in classrooms to the exclusion of all other religions. The court's decision was not only fair but based on the rule of law. People who think otherwise are feeding the debate and controversy regarding Islam and the West. What they should remember is that the crux of all major world religions is tolerance.
H. Schmitt, Germany

Not banned nor compulsory. States should not rule on religion. People must be free to choose their faith and symbols.
Ricardo, Brazil

The decision in Italy will definitely inflame tensions
Arif, England
As Muslim child I went to a Church of England primary school, as did all my siblings. We even went to Church on numerous occasions with school! In no way did this affect my religious identity or my faith. All my family are devout Muslims. We never had any problems with the symbols of Christianity that we visible in school. The decision in Italy will definitely inflame tensions. Rather than removing symbols of Christianity, symbols of other religions should be allowed in schools, so that we can celebrate or differences in a spirit of understanding, mutual respect and tolerance.
Arif, England

If the crucifix was on the wall of a Catholic or Christian School then what is the problem? If the Muslim Leader is in such a school and being in a predominantly Christian country surely he must respect the local customs and cultures as he would expect anyone else to if they were in a Muslim country, as others have said "when in Rome etc."
Vivienne, UK

A crucifix is a reminder that Jesus the Son of God died for our sins. This is valid for Moslems, Jews, Christians and atheists alike, even though some may not want to accept this truth.
AJ, Germany

Why should we remove the symbols of our faiths? I follow no religious order but I respect the views of people who do, if we went to Muslim countries and started demanding they stop/remove items of their faith, we would be thrown out, this is pc gone mad, next thing on the hit list will be stopping xmas/easter etc. And people wonder why extreme political parties are gaining ground, why does no one listen?
J Mulligan, UK

How are children expected to learn about religion, if we keep banning it? Surely this teaches intolerance!
Susan, UK

As dominant as Christianity is in Italy, the crucifix symbolizes centuries of oppression to those not of the faith. The current Saudi style of religious intolerance is no more extreme, or irrational, than that practiced by Vatican inspired governments. What Islamic, Jewish, Hindi, Wiccan, Agnostic or Atheistic child or adult benefits from the singular presence of a religious symbol in a secular learning environment? Can the cross? AMEN!
Ralph, USA

It should be only displayed in religious schools
Manuel, Macedonia
The crucifix (which is, either you like it or not, a somewhat morbid symbol with Jesus nailed on the cross, bleeding to death) and portrays the Catholic religion with all the respect that it deserves, like any other religion. Therefore it should be only displayed in religious schools. Likewise, Islam should abstain to portray religious symbols in non-religious schools. Islam should also refrain from getting into squabbling over religious issues as it will only lead to a growing divide between the West and Muslim countries. It is shameful that both religions fight over spirituality and the same God, despite the way He is perceived and loved by each other.
Manuel, Macedonia

What's next - banning Christmas Trees, Carol Singers and Easter Eggs...They are all symbols of Christian festivals...
LISA, Italy

We think that it could be a good decision, because many and many Italian don't believe in God, especially young people and the school is lay and everyone could believe in what he or she wants. Anyway if someone wants a crucifix in his classroom, he has to allow everyone to put on the walls his own idols. However we have to identify this case like a case of destroy the catholic religion at the base.
Giovanni & Riki, Italy

In our opinion, the cross is a religious symbol so it hasn't to be on school's walls because the school is lay institution. So putting away from school's walls the cross is right also because Italy is a democratic country and it shouldn't impose its religion. We're Christians so we believe in God but we think that the school isn't the place to show our religion because there are others buildings for this (churches)! That's all!
Pamela & Roberta, Italy

The crucifix is intrinsic to history
Anna, USA
Lately it seems we are bothered when there are mixed displays of sentiment and opinion. The crucifix is intrinsic to history. It is a monument of a culture and a movement and though you may not personally prescribe to it, it is still an integral part of the societies of today. Should we forget history because it bothers us?
Anna, USA

Faith/religion must be placed in the classroom. It's ignorant to deny its role in history, politics, culture... and the day-to-day life of Italy. It's bigoted to deny any metaphysical dimension to the world. However, as a Christian, i aint impressed with suppression of other religious views. 'Elites' set themselves up as religions; but goodness knows what Mr. Keesee is banging on about: the EU... international socialism.... yeah right. International capitalism more like! You should pray for socialism if you care for God's world.
Andrew Falconer, UK

I agree. Religious symbols should be removed from any place of veneration in a secular school system.
Larry, USA

If Italy truly has laws that apply to this situation, then I don't have a problem with the ruling. What I find sad though is that all this talk of multi-culturalism is really leading us to no-culturalism. If everything that any one person disagrees with are banned, it will be a very boring world indeed that we leave to our children.
Gary Patterson, USA

The cross should stay, when in Rome do as the Roman's do.
N Gorton, UK expat/ Canada

Why shouldn't there be religious symbols in schools? Religions are part of human history. Religions are the base of the different cultures. There is a lot of wisdom in all the different religions. I think teaching about religions should be compulsory. It is ignorance that creates intolerance, not knowledge.
Harriet, Singapore/NL

It appears to me that Islam is one of the most extremely intolerant faiths around
Edwin Thornber, UK/Romania
Let Muslim countries ban their religious symbols in their own countries before complaining about religious symbols in other countries. It is surely a bit like complaining that Italians speak Italian. It appears to me that Islam is one of the most extremely intolerant faiths around. May be Islam should be banned.
Edwin Thornber, UK/Romania

Since Christianity lies at the very foundation of European civilisation, history and law - and most especially Italy's - it is perfectly acceptable to have Christian symbols in places where children are educated. When we abandon the principles of Christianity in order to please those of other faiths we tread a dangerous path.
Dorothy, Belgium

I am an Italian boy and my point of view is all religious symbols should be kept out from public schools and courts. All religions must be respect each other, and one day we'll live in a multi-cultural society.
Italo P., Ripatransone Italy

I find it scary that signs of some religious affiliations are being banned, but others are somehow protected. Why is it OK to wear a headscarf, but not OK to wear a cross? Why can children in the US swear and threaten their teachers in the name of free speech, but they cannot pray in school? We have effectively removed God (by any Name or Form) from the public life in the US, now we wonder why our children lack direction and honour?
Sandra, US

Separating religion and state should be a must in all countries
Stefan, Europe
Separating religion and state should be a must in all countries. This means removing religious icons from classrooms, courthouses and other public places. However there should also be freedom of religion. This means that individuals should be allowed to wear a cross or a headscarf even in school or at work, individuals not government paid institutions should have the choice whether or not to display their religion publicly. Another option would be that public institutions should allow individuals to request their own religious symbol to be added if one of another religion is already present. This might even help boost the tolerance between religions.
Stefan, Europe

As an atheist I find all religious symbols to be at worst offensive and at best, irrelevant. I would rather my children not have to observe these blinkered symbols of spiritual oppression, whichever of the main faiths they come from, they have no place in schools although nor does prayer or any other type of faith based activity.
John Keegans, Nottingham, UK

This issue is primarily one of national sovereignty, as far as I am concerned. There is clearly a general consensus and a deep-rooted tradition among the Italians to display the crucifix symbol. Italy is not bound by the formal law in France of 1905 entirely separating religion and state, nor should it be made to bow to the whims of the Eurocrats in Brussels. The way things are going, one day the flags of England, the UK, the Scandinavian countries, and Greece may be forced to remove their cross symbols on the grounds that they portray religious exclusivity.
Jacob, UK

Those with true faith and confidence would not trifle themselves with this issue
Sean, Belgium
I could not imagine Jesus Christ or Mohammed arguing over these symbols. All parties involved have missed the point. Those with true faith and confidence would not trifle themselves with this issue. The right to have the symbol is as strong as the right to remove the symbol. Let the Children decide!
Sean, Belgium

Is Italy not a predominantly Catholic country? Could a Christian go to a Muslim country and demand that they remove all Islamic symbols? I think not. If a Muslim wants to reside in a Christian country they have to tolerate the religion. Unlike in Muslim countries where it is a crime to display crucifixes and possess Bibles. I cannot believe the stupidity of the Italian judge. Shame on him.
Ben Aldorino, UK

I fail to see how the banning of religious symbols sends a message of multiculturalism and tolerance. Schools should encourage discussion about different religion and cultures because, far from being irrelevant, it seems to be increasingly relevant in the age we are living in.
Helen, UK

Having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for 11 years where you can't even wear a crucifix on a chain round you neck, take a bible into the Kingdom, hold any kind of religious service, or even enter the city of Mecca. Where they even stopped Swiss Air from flying into the Kingdom because there plane had a red cross on the tailplane. All I can say to this Muslim leader in Italy is "when in Rome do as the Romans do" and think him self lucky he has some where to go and pray in Italy, because in Arabia Catholics and Christians don't. R.L.Tasker
Roger Tasker, Italy

Why should crosses or any religious symbols be removed? If we want a free, tolerant and open minded society, I see no reason why religious symbols should be banned. I think the decision shows a lack of maturity - just another sign of cultural sanitisation.
JS, Norwich, UK

It is strange that one insists that a cross be removed from a classroom and another is permitted a headscarf in the classroom. Looks like some have their cake and get to eat it.
Doug, Sweden

Such traditions are difficult to change, but the value of having a genuinely secular state is now known to be strongly positive. The change is correct.
Cliff, USA

The Italian judge put his foot in it by taking such a wrong unfair decision
Raimundo L. Santos, Brazil
The crucifix is an important symbol for Christians. As a Catholic I don't see any point in removing our Christian symbols for fear any other religion would not like or approve of it. If I were living in a Muslim country for example, I wouldn't feel scandalized just to see women in their burkas and veils, or men wearing their turbans. Moreover, I suppose "judges" or the like in Muslim countries are not really concerned if we Christians approve or disapprove of their habits and customs, so why should we? The Italian judge put his foot in it by taking such a wrong unfair decision, which might as well offend Catholics.
Raimundo L. Santos, Brazil

If Italy's present laws do, at least on paper, separate the church from the state, then it definitely should have been removed. I'm actually surprised this is getting so much attention--while living in Italy, going to church in Italy, I found most Italians didn't regularly attend church. As for Christians in Muslim countries, mentioned below--perhaps that's why these Muslims do not live in said countries?
Christina, USA

The EU elites see religion as an obstacle not an asset. The Catholic church is a symbol of Italy as is the Lutheran Church in Germany and the Anglican Church in Britain and the Orthodox Churches in Eastern Europe. The Euro elites want people from Sicily to Scandinavia to bow to them. Eliminating the religions that are associated with nations and replacing it with their rootless worship of international socialism then the EU elites can further their agenda against national sovereignty.
Colin Keesee, USA

It's a shame that no mention was made that the Muslim man had requested an Islamic symbol be represented along side the crucifix. I'm not sure I agree with going to court over such an issue when clearly in a country that is predominantly Christian. However, I believe that religious symbols should be removed and teaching kids about different faiths and religions is important to bridge the gap of ignorance between us all.
Zak, UK

In any country that went through the reformation this would be a non-issue. But this is Italy: the Church still plays a massive role in the country's political life and people's mind set is not ready yet to deal with a society that only recently has started to become relatively multicultural. Religion should stay out of the classroom.
Matteo Garavoglia, Italy, EU

Interestingly, many of the non-religious contributors seem to be as, or more, intolerant of religious expression than the religions they view with disdain as intolerant!
Mark, Scotland

A crucifix in the classroom is the tip of the iceberg in Italy
Vanessa, UK/Italy
Unfortunately Italy has the Vatican within its borders, all the political parties try to seek favour with the Catholic faith, see the recent debacle on the proposed law for a quick divorce. I would ban crucifix not only in the schools, but in the courts (yes, they are present there too). I would ban the religious lessons in schools, taught by teachers that the bishop chooses, not the state education. A crucifix in the class room is the tip of the iceberg in Italy, the church interferes everywhere, unfortunately an, in my view, unpleasant man like Smith has started this debate that has been long overdue.
Vanessa, UK/Italy

The crucifix is as much a cultural symbol as a religious one. It represents centuries of European civilisation and should not be lightly discarded.
Richard Cotton, London, UK

The problem of separation of 'religion in schools' would go away if the government followed the Bastiat principle of limiting the law to its task and letting private institutions educate and provide services. Then the private institutions could be religious or a-religious and it would be fine.
Ewan, UK

It seems reasonable to remove the crucifix from the classroom if it affects the sentiments of people in the community. However by taking out a so-called religious symbol, are we not endorsing another symbol? Let's just remember that having 'no symbols' is not fair to all. It is still subscribing to a particular view.
Neil, India

In the new Europe whose culture is becoming dominated by (or reduced to) shopping centres, clearly the elite find the Catholic Church to be an obstacle to be suppressed. Clearly it is disadvantageous if people have things on their minds other than consumption. The Muslim minority is essentially a tool in the hands of the Euro-buros in this case in the suppression of traditions that do not suit their taste.
Balazs, Italy

All this fuss over religion - what about the kids? In schools they should be "educated" to be tolerant and loving! Plaster casts on walls or symbols of this or that are irrelevant. It's what's taught them about love and international caring that matters - otherwise shut the schools!
Stephen, Thailand

Religious symbols should never be displayed in schools... especially not symbols that promote one faith over all others
Keith, Canada
I believed Italians were smart and educated - how can they allow such nonsense in a classroom and mislead their children? Religion should be a personal matter and it should never be symbolised in a place where there are people of mixed or no faith.
Amjad Farooq, US

I do not tend to agree with the judge's decision. If the other religion's leader is not happy with the crucifix because this may influence Muslim children in my opinion it would be more prudent if he asked to fix a Muslim symbol on the walls near the Catholic symbol.
Alfred Mallia, Malta

I think the separation of church and state is so heavily enforced in the West that in a way it actually promotes atheism. I would prefer the way we handle this in Bangladesh. We are a multi-religious country where most of the major religions in the nation are recognised. If I'm not mistaken, the Muslim leader initially asked for the school to put a Muslim symbol beside the cross in the classroom, but the school refused. I therefore support the judge's decision to hold every religion with equal respect.
Arif Joarder, Bangladesh

Religion should stay out of the classroom, period
Kent, Canada
It's unfair that the initial suggestion by Adel Smith to display a symbol from the Koran alongside the crucifix should have been denied. Therefore it's only fair that the crucifix be removed altogether to avoid creating a kind of religious superiority which is totally out of place in a multi-racial society.
Patricia, Italy

It will inflame tensions between faiths, but I think it is a fair ruling as long all faiths are respected
Rodrigo, Paraguay

Religious symbols have no place in a classroom. Religion is undoubtedly a private matter and should be kept so in the future.
Neil Jones, United Kingdom

Religion should stay out of the classroom, period.
Kent, Canada

Italy was born (less than 150 years ago) when the laws of Piedmont (a secular country) were extended to Italy at unification. Italy stayed secular until fascism, when Mussolini bought the support of the Catholic Church by turning back the clock on separation between religion and state. Hence the recent court judgment is in line with Italy's history and gives back to the Italians the secular state that is part of their democratic traditions.
Silvio Sandrone, Turin, Piedmont (Italy)

Muslims want to have religious rights in Christian countries, do they grant the same rights to Christians in Muslim countries?
Adam Schott, Australia

I strongly agree with the judge's decision. A fascist state was responsible for the current law. This issue is a no-brainer and the Vatican must be stopped from imposing its agenda on people who do not subscribe to it.
Richard , US

Here in Italy, we have one hour a week of confessional catholic teaching in every school. If you don't like that you have to opt-out. In my opinion, that's the problem, not the crucifix.
Paolo, Italy

Religious symbols should never be displayed in schools. And especially not symbols that promote one faith over all others.
Keith, Canada

In state schools there is no place for one religion over another
John, France
I don't mind religious symbols in public (as art). However, as children are so susceptible to the ideas of others above their own, it seems inappropriate for public school to "endorse" any religion. If children wish to express themselves (wearing crosses, headscarves), this seems innocent. It is the expression of the child and his or her family, rather than the state communicating a preference to the children.
Aleta, United States

I can't accept that a judge is trying to erase a part of our culture and history with a sentence. And I can't accept that this request comes from a man who believes to be the head of Italian Muslims and who has always talked so badly of the Catholic religion. And so why don't we sweep off the Red Cross symbol?
Michele, Italy

As a Christian I strongly believe that the Church and state must be kept separate and state must not and should not support or favour or endorse any one religion as this is a step toward state control of freedom. Crosses I feel are fine in home or in a local church but not in government-run institutions.
Mark Flanagan, Sweden

I can't help thinking that if it had been the opposite and a Catholic had sought the removal of Islamic symbols, they would have been slammed for being racist. Once again national culture and history are sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.
Dean, UK

All religious symbols should (must) be removed from public places and public use. They should be allowed in places of worship of the particular religion/belief or in any individual's home. Public no, schools no.
Miklos Nomad, Hungary

In state schools there is no place for one religion over another and there should be no display of any symbol - crucifix, head scarf or turban.
John, France

Of course it will inflame tensions between faiths. Italy is, and has within it, the centre of the Catholic faith. To coin a phrase "When in Rome!"
Les Woods, England/UK

Religion should be in schools only as part of history or psychology, studied with myths, legends, fairytales and superstitions.
Nigel Rees, UK/USA

It will inflame tensions - Europe has been Christian for thousands of years and many will see this as foreigners removing our heritage.
Tom, England

A complete ban on all religious symbols on the walls of schools could be put in place to "show the unequivocal desire by the state... to place Atheism at the centre of the Universe". Whatever is done will be wrong. As for inflaming tensions between religions, the whole effect of serious and committed religious belief is to preclude tolerance of others. No religion has ever accepted that others have a right to exist let alone that they might also be correct in their beliefs. After all their 'Holy Book' proves that they are right.
Barry P, England




SEE ALSO:
Storm over Italy crucifix ruling
26 Oct 03  |  Europe
Headscarves: contentious cloths
26 Sep 03  |  Europe
Italy looks to migrants
21 Mar 00  |  Europe



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