To support its sound decision*, the European Court of Human Rights specifically mentioned arguments traditionnally used by religious conservatives : the right for the parents to educate their children according to their own beliefs, the right for the childre to freedom of religion.
The plaintiff, Mrs Soile Lautsi, a Finnish-born Italian mother, will receive EUR 5,000 in damages. But this is not about money, and all partisans of secularism across Europe should rejoice : mixing religious signs with public service clearly insults to the very essence of democracy and republican values. Judge Luigi Tosti also fought for this vital cause, putting his career in jeopardy because he refused to enter in court rooms featuring a crucifix.
Once again, this is not about atheism vs. religion, but about democracy vs. fundamentalism AND about religion vs. fundamentalism. Secularism is the only way to protect at the same time democracy AND religion from their common and most lethal enemy.
Needless to say, the Lega Nord, the Re-Reformed Church of Chief Fundamentalist Benedict XVI, and other fundamentalists from all confessions** didn't welcome such resistance before the probable inauguration of one of them at the first continental leader (see "Tony Blair : a newborn fundamentalist President of Europe ?").
Yesterday, Minister of "Education" Mariastella Gelmini tried to make crucifixes pass for "symboles of Italian tradition"... The usual neo-creationist trick : multiply smoke screens, ban from the vocabulary all religious reference, deny any hidden agenda / wedge strategy, and send coward, submarine strikes against science, education, and democracy (see cf "En finir avec l'Intelligent Design").
The battle is not over : Italy's Supreme Court revoked in 2004 a 2003 judgement banning crucifixes from schools and courts without bringing any legal justification, and the European Court of Human Rights must brace against furious attacks from fundamentalists, most likely using their usual proxies within European political spheres (i.e. Luc van den Brande).
This battle is not a new one, but it's now official and out in the open : like the US before, Europe fights for its very survival as a symbol of democracy against its worst enemies, imposters from within.
also in French : "La Cour Européenne des Droits de l'Homme crucifie les fondamentalistes"
* "Communiqué du Greffier - Arrêt de chambre - Lautsi c. Italie (requête n° 30814/06)" - the English Version :
CRUCIFIX IN CLASSROOMS:
CONTRARY TO PARENTS’ RIGHT TO EDUCATE THEIR CHILDREN IN LINE WITH THEIR CONVICTIONS AND TO CHILDREN’S RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION
Violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education)
examined jointly with Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion)
of the European Convention on Human Rights
Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, the Court awarded the applicant 5,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
The State was to refrain from imposing beliefs in premises where individuals were dependent on it. In particular, it was required to observe confessional neutrality in the context of public education, where attending classes was compulsory irrespective of religion, and where the aim should be to foster critical thinking in pupils.
** I cannot imagine any better message for moderate Muslims struggling to eradicate fundamentalism across the world (i.e. most recently Al-Azhar University in Egypt banning the niqab, or the heated debate about "France, secularism and burqa").
I replaced the French version (below) by the English Version (above) :
CRUCIFIX DANS LES SALLES DE CLASSE : CONTRAIRE AU DROIT DES PARENTS D'ÉDUQUER LEURS ENFANTS SELON LEURS CONVICTIONS ET AU DROIT DES ENFANTS À LA LIBERTÉ DE RELIGION
Violation de l'article 2 du protocole n° 1 (droit à l'instruction) examiné conjointement avec l'article 9 (liberté de pensée, de conscience et de religion) de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme.
En application de l'article 41 (satisfaction équitable) de la Convention, la Cour alloue 5 000 euros (EUR) à la requérante pour dommage moral.
"L'Etat doit s'abstenir d'imposer des croyances dans les lieux où les personnes sont dépendantes de lui. Il est notamment tenu à la neutralité confessionnelle dans le cadre de l’éducation publique où la présence aux cours est requise sans considération de religion et qui doit chercher à inculquer aux élèves une pensée critique".