European rights court backs Italy over crucifixes in schools
The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that displaying crucifixes in schools in Italy did not breach the rights of non-Catholic families, overturning a previous decision.
The court initially ruled in November 2009 that the display of crucifixes in Italian schools breached the rights of non-Catholics, drawing howls of anger from Church and political leaders in the staunchly Roman Catholic country.
In its ruling, the court said that "while the crucifix was above all a religious symbol, there was no evidence before the court that the display of such a symbol on classroom walls might have an influence on pupils".
The case was brought by Italian mother Soile Lautsi, whose two children attended a state school near Venice.
She was unhappy crucifixes were present in every classroom and complained to the school.
After education chiefs refused to remove the crosses, she spent several years fighting the decision through the Italian courts before taking the case to the Strasbourg court.
© 2011 AFP