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Compulsory crucifixes in Bavaria spark controversy

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Compulsory crucifixes in Bavaria spark controversy

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A new law requiring a crucifix to be displayed on the wall of every government building is causing controversy in Bavaria. It's being introduced by Angela Merkels sister party the CSU.

Bavaria's State Premier defends his measure, saying the cross is not just a religious symbol but a symbol of cultural history and identity.

But many even within the church itself see the measure as willfully divisive, at a time when the integration of immigrant cultures is a matter of political debate in Germany.

Catholic priest Rainer Maria Schiessler: "It is only a few weeks ago we had the discussion yet again on whether or not Islam should be a part of Germany. Now there is a politician, who is against, who is hanging that cross. That has to lead to unhappiness, it will lead to people saying there's a religious war being declared."

The decree comes into force in June. An online petition against it has gathered more than 35 000 signatures.