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Italian judge orders crucifix removed from classrooms

A judge in central Italy has ruled that the crucifix must be removed from classrooms in a state primary school near the city of L'Aquila.

The judge upheld a complaint by Italian Muslim leader Adel Smith, who went to court after the school which his children attend refused to display a symbol from the Koran alongside the crucifix.

A judge has ruled that the crucifix in a public school showed the clear desire of the state to place the Catholic faith at the centre of the universe, in disregard for other religions.

The law on crucifixes dates back to the fascist period and has never been explicitly repealed.

However, the education minister, who has also endorsed controversial funding for Catholic schools, last month reiterated that crucifixes must be hung.

Reaction to the ruling has been varied.

Prominent Cardinal Esilio Tornini said it offended the majority of Italians and the spirit of the constitution.

One teachers union welcomed the move, saying it would reinforce the secular character of the education system.

Italian judge rules crucifix be removed from classrooms (ABC)

Italian Court Bans Classroom Crucifix At Muslim's Request (
Crucifix row hits Italian schools (AP/CNN)
Storm over Italy crucifix ruling (BBC)

27 Oct 2003