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Italy fights to overturn classroom crucifix ban

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Italy fights to overturn classroom crucifix ban

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The Italian government has gone to the European Court of Human Rights to try to overturn a ban on crucifixes being displayed in its state-run schools.

It is appealing a ruling by the Strasbourg-based tribunal which said the presence of such symbols could be “disturbing” for pupils who practised other religions or who were atheists.

Italy is predominantly Catholic and the court’s decision last year sparked outrage.

It is right to keep crosses in schools “since our religion is Catholic,” argues Lidia, a teacher in Rome.

But Maria, a student in the capital, sees things differently. Because there are children of other faiths too, she believes: “In a school you should not teach religion. You should teach culture.”

If Italy loses its appeal, religious symbols could be outlawed in state-schools across the European Union.