notiziario 30 ottobre 2003


Il dibattito sul crocifisso approda sulla BBC

testi originali (le traduzioni)

Should crosses be banned from classrooms? A court decision to order a state kindergarten to remove crucifixes from its classrooms has caused controversy in Italy. The ruling by a judge in the central town of L'Aquila, following a complaint by an Italian Muslim leader, has re-opened a bitter debate about religious symbols. The judge ruled that crucifixes on classroom walls showed "the unequivocal desire by the state, when it comes to public education, to place the Catholic religion at the centre of the universe", disregarding other religions. Do you agree with the decision? Or could it inflame tensions between faiths? The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

What business does a crucifix have in a classroom to begin with? If you want to teach your children about a religion, go for it; however that has nothing to do with public schooling. If I were a school teacher and decided that I would like to have a statue of Ganesh, I think I might get a little flack about it, so why should a crucifix be allowed? Mike, USA

As long as the teacher does not try to convert the children to a particular faith, we should not take away the right to free speech and beliefs. Gareth Giles, England

I think the cross should have stayed on the wall. I would suggest, if the man disagrees with the symbol as much as that, then he take his children to a kindergarten that does not outwardly show it's moral standpoint and not enforce oppression upon the other 99% of class attendees Callum W, UK

Many contributors are missing the point. Italy is a secular state, therefore the separation of state and religion (unlike the majority of Muslim countries that profess nothing of the sort - the comparative argument thus being moot). The kindergarten being state run had no authority to place a Catholic religious symbol in classrooms to the exclusion of all other religions. The court's decision was not only fair but based on the rule of law. People who think otherwise are feeding the debate and controversy regarding Islam and the West. What they should remember is that the crux of all major world religions is tolerance. H. Schmitt, Germany

Not banned nor compulsory. States should not rule on religion. People must be free to choose their faith and symbols. Ricardo, Brazil

As Muslim child I went to a Church of England primary school, as did all my siblings. We even went to Church on numerous occasions with school! In no way did this affect my religious identity or my faith. All my family are devout Muslims. We never had any problems with the symbols of Christianity that we visible in school. The decision in Italy will definitely inflame tensions. Rather than removing symbols of Christianity, symbols of other religions should be allowed in schools, so that we can celebrate or differences in a spirit of understanding, mutual respect and tolerance. Arif, England

If the crucifix was on the wall of a Catholic or Christian School then what is the problem? If the Muslim Leader is in such a school and being in a predominantly Christian country surely he must respect the local customs and cultures as he would expect anyone else to if they were in a Muslim country, as others have said "when in Rome etc." Vivienne, UK

A crucifix is a reminder that Jesus the Son of God died for our sins. This is valid for Moslems, Jews, Christians and atheists alike, even though some may not want to accept this truth. AJ, Germany

Why should we remove the symbols of our faiths? I follow no religious order but I respect the views of people who do, if we went to Muslim countries and started demanding they stop/remove items of their faith, we would be thrown out, this is pc gone mad, next thing on the hit list will be stopping xmas/easter etc. And people wonder why extreme political parties are gaining ground, why does no one listen? J Mulligan, UK

How are children expected to learn about religion, if we keep banning it? Surely this teaches intolerance! Susan, UK As dominant as Christianity is in Italy, the crucifix symbolizes centuries of oppression to those not of the faith. The current Saudi style of religious intolerance is no more extreme, or irrational, than that practiced by Vatican inspired governments. What Islamic, Jewish, Hindi, Wiccan, Agnostic or Atheistic child or adult benefits from the singular presence of a religious symbol in a secular learning environment? Can the cross? AMEN! Ralph, USA

It should be only displayed in religious schools Manuel, Macedonia The crucifix (which is, either you like it or not, a somewhat morbid symbol with Jesus nailed on the cross, bleeding to death) and portrays the Catholic religion with all the respect that it deserves, like any other religion. Therefore it should be only displayed in religious schools. Likewise, Islam should abstain to portray religious symbols in non-religious schools. Islam should also refrain from getting into squabbling over religious issues as it will only lead to a growing divide between the West and Muslim countries. It is shameful that both religions fight over spirituality and the same God, despite the way He is perceived and loved by each other. Manuel, Macedonia

What's next - banning Christmas Trees, Carol Singers and Easter Eggs...They are all symbols of Christian festivals... LISA, Italy

We think that it could be a good decision, because many and many Italian don't believe in God, especially young people and the school is lay and everyone could believe in what he or she wants. Anyway if someone wants a crucifix in his classroom, he has to allow everyone to put on the walls his own idols. However we have to identify this case like a case of destroy the catholic religion at the base. Giovanni & Riki, Italy

In our opinion, the cross is a religious symbol so it hasn't to be on school's walls because the school is lay institution. So putting away from school's walls the cross is right also because Italy is a democratic country and it shouldn't impose its religion. We're Christians so we believe in God but we think that the school isn't the place to show our religion because there are others buildings for this (churches)! That's all! Pamela & Roberta, Italy

Lately it seems we are bothered when there are mixed displays of sentiment and opinion. The crucifix is intrinsic to history. It is a monument of a culture and a movement and though you may not personally prescribe to it, it is still an integral part of the societies of today. Should we forget history because it bothers us? Anna, USA

Faith/religion must be placed in the classroom. It's ignorant to deny its role in history, politics, culture... and the day-to-day life of Italy. It's bigoted to deny any metaphysical dimension to the world. However, as a Christian, i aint impressed with suppression of other religious views. 'Elites' set themselves up as religions; but goodness knows what Mr. Keesee is banging on about: the EU... international socialism.... yeah right. International capitalism more like! You should pray for socialism if you care for God's world. Andrew Falconer, UK

I agree. Religious symbols should be removed from any place of veneration in a secular school system. Larry, USA

If Italy truly has laws that apply to this situation, then I don't have a problem with the ruling. What I find sad though is that all this talk of multi-culturalism is really leading us to no-culturalism. If everything that any one person disagrees with are banned, it will be a very boring world indeed that we leave to our children. Gary Patterson, USA

The cross should stay, when in Rome do as the Roman's do. N Gorton, UK expat/ Canada Why shouldn't there be religious symbols in schools? Religions are part of human history. Religions are the base of the different cultures. There is a lot of wisdom in all the different religions. I think teaching about religions should be compulsory. It is ignorance that creates intolerance, not knowledge. Harriet, Singapore/NL

Let Muslim countries ban their religious symbols in their own countries before complaining about religious symbols in other countries. It is surely a bit like complaining that Italians speak Italian. It appears to me that Islam is one of the most extremely intolerant faiths around. May be Islam should be banned. Edwin Thornber, UK/Romania

Since Christianity lies at the very foundation of European civilisation, history and law - and most especially Italy's - it is perfectly acceptable to have Christian symbols in places where children are educated. When we abandon the principles of Christianity in order to please those of other faiths we tread a dangerous path. Dorothy, Belgium

I am an Italian boy and my point of view is all religious symbols should be kept out from public schools and courts. All religions must be respect each other, and one day we'll live in a multi-cultural society. Italo P., Ripatransone Italy

I find it scary that signs of some religious affiliations are being banned, but others are somehow protected. Why is it OK to wear a headscarf, but not OK to wear a cross? Why can children in the US swear and threaten their teachers in the name of free speech, but they cannot pray in school? We have effectively removed God (by any Name or Form) from the public life in the US, now we wonder why our children lack direction and honour? Sandra, US

Separating religion and state should be a must in all countries Stefan, Europe Separating religion and state should be a must in all countries. This means removing religious icons from classrooms, courthouses and other public places. However there should also be freedom of religion. This means that individuals should be allowed to wear a cross or a headscarf even in school or at work, individuals not government paid institutions should have the choice whether or not to display their religion publicly. Another option would be that public institutions should allow individuals to request their own religious symbol to be added if one of another religion is already present. This might even help boost the tolerance between religions. Stefan, Europe

As an atheist I find all religious symbols to be at worst offensive and at best, irrelevant. I would rather my children not have to observe these blinkered symbols of spiritual oppression, whichever of the main faiths they come from, they have no place in schools although nor does prayer or any other type of faith based activity. John Keegans, Nottingham, UK

This issue is primarily one of national sovereignty, as far as I am concerned. There is clearly a general consensus and a deep-rooted tradition among the Italians to display the crucifix symbol. Italy is not bound by the formal law in France of 1905 entirely separating religion and state, nor should it be made to bow to the whims of the Eurocrats in Brussels. The way things are going, one day the flags of England, the UK, the Scandinavian countries, and Greece may be forced to remove their cross symbols on the grounds that they portray religious exclusivity. Jacob, UK

I could not imagine Jesus Christ or Mohammed arguing over these symbols. All parties involved have missed the point. Those with true faith and confidence would not trifle themselves with this issue. The right to have the symbol is as strong as the right to remove the symbol. Let the Children decide! Sean, Belgium

Is Italy not a predominantly Catholic country? Could a Christian go to a Muslim country and demand that they remove all Islamic symbols? I think not. If a Muslim wants to reside in a Christian country they have to tolerate the religion. Unlike in Muslim countries where it is a crime to display crucifixes and possess Bibles. I cannot believe the stupidity of the Italian judge. Shame on him. Ben Aldorino, UK

I fail to see how the banning of religious symbols sends a message of multiculturalism and tolerance. Schools should encourage discussion about different religion and cultures because, far from being irrelevant, it seems to be increasingly relevant in the age we are living in. Helen, UK

Having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for 11 years where you can't even wear a crucifix on a chain round you neck, take a bible into the Kingdom, hold any kind of religious service, or even enter the city of Mecca. Where they even stopped Swiss Air from flying into the Kingdom because there plane had a red cross on the tailplane. All I can say to this Muslim leader in Italy is "when in Rome do as the Romans do" and think him self lucky he has some where to go and pray in Italy, because in Arabia Catholics and Christians don't. R.L.Tasker Roger Tasker, Italy

Why should crosses or any religious symbols be removed? If we want a free, tolerant and open minded society, I see no reason why religious symbols should be banned. I think the decision shows a lack of maturity - just another sign of cultural sanitisation. JS, Norwich, UK

It is strange that one insists that a cross be removed from a classroom and another is permitted a headscarf in the classroom. Looks like some have their cake and get to eat it. Doug, Sweden

Such traditions are difficult to change, but the value of having a genuinely secular state is now known to be strongly positive. The change is correct. Cliff, USA

The crucifix is an important symbol for Christians. As a Catholic I don't see any point in removing our Christian symbols for fear any other religion would not like or approve of it. If I were living in a Muslim country for example, I wouldn't feel scandalized just to see women in their burkas and veils, or men wearing their turbans. Moreover, I suppose "judges" or the like in Muslim countries are not really concerned if we Christians approve or disapprove of their habits and customs, so why should we? The Italian judge put his foot in it by taking such a wrong unfair decision, which might as well offend Catholics. Raimundo L. Santos, Brazil

If Italy's present laws do, at least on paper, separate the church from the state, then it definitely should have been removed. I'm actually surprised this is getting so much attention--while living in Italy, going to church in Italy, I found most Italians didn't regularly attend church. As for Christians in Muslim countries, mentioned below--perhaps that's why these Muslims do not live in said countries? Christina, USA

The EU elites see religion as an obstacle not an asset. The Catholic church is a symbol of Italy as is the Lutheran Church in Germany and the Anglican Church in Britain and the Orthodox Churches in Eastern Europe. The Euro elites want people from Sicily to Scandinavia to bow to them. Eliminating the religions that are associated with nations and replacing it with their rootless worship of international socialism then the EU elites can further their agenda against national sovereignty. Colin Keesee, USA

It's a shame that no mention was made that the Muslim man had requested an Islamic symbol be represented along side the crucifix. I'm not sure I agree with going to court over such an issue when clearly in a country that is predominantly Christian. However, I believe that religious symbols should be removed and teaching kids about different faiths and religions is important to bridge the gap of ignorance between us all. Zak, UK

In any country that went through the reformation this would be a non-issue. But this is Italy: the Church still plays a massive role in the country's political life and people's mind set is not ready yet to deal with a society that only recently has started to become relatively multicultural. Religion should stay out of the classroom. Matteo Garavoglia, Italy, EU

Interestingly, many of the non-religious contributors seem to be as, or more, intolerant of religious expression than the religions they view with disdain as intolerant! Mark, Scotland

A crucifix in the classroom is the tip of the iceberg in Italy. Unfortunately Italy has the Vatican within its borders, all the political parties try to seek favour with the Catholic faith, see the recent debacle on the proposed law for a quick divorce. I would ban crucifix not only in the schools, but in the courts (yes, they are present there too). I would ban the religious lessons in schools, taught by teachers that the bishop chooses, not the state education. A crucifix in the class room is the tip of the iceberg in Italy, the church interferes everywhere, unfortunately an, in my view, unpleasant man like Smith has started this debate that has been long overdue. Vanessa, UK/Italy

The crucifix is as much a cultural symbol as a religious one. It represents centuries of European civilisation and should not be lightly discarded. Richard Cotton, London, UK

The problem of separation of 'religion in schools' would go away if the government followed the Bastiat principle of limiting the law to its task and letting private institutions educate and provide services. Then the private institutions could be religious or a-religious and it would be fine. Ewan, UK

It seems reasonable to remove the crucifix from the classroom if it affects the sentiments of people in the community. However by taking out a so-called religious symbol, are we not endorsing another symbol? Let's just remember that having 'no symbols' is not fair to all. It is still subscribing to a particular view. Neil, India

In the new Europe whose culture is becoming dominated by (or reduced to) shopping centres, clearly the elite find the Catholic Church to be an obstacle to be suppressed. Clearly it is disadvantageous if people have things on their minds other than consumption. The Muslim minority is essentially a tool in the hands of the Euro-buros in this case in the suppression of traditions that do not suit their taste. Balazs, Italy

All this fuss over religion - what about the kids? In schools they should be "educated" to be tolerant and loving! Plaster casts on walls or symbols of this or that are irrelevant. It's what's taught them about love and international caring that matters - otherwise shut the schools! Stephen, Thailand

Religious symbols should never be displayed in schools... especially not symbols that promote one faith over all others Keith, Canada

I believed Italians were smart and educated - how can they allow such nonsense in a classroom and mislead their children? Religion should be a personal matter and it should never be symbolised in a place where there are people of mixed or no faith. Amjad Farooq, US

I do not tend to agree with the judge's decision. If the other religion's leader is not happy with the crucifix because this may influence Muslim children in my opinion it would be more prudent if he asked to fix a Muslim symbol on the walls near the Catholic symbol. Alfred Mallia, Malta

I think the separation of church and state is so heavily enforced in the West that in a way it actually promotes atheism. I would prefer the way we handle this in Bangladesh. We are a multi-religious country where most of the major religions in the nation are recognised. If I'm not mistaken, the Muslim leader initially asked for the school to put a Muslim symbol beside the cross in the classroom, but the school refused. I therefore support the judge's decision to hold every religion with equal respect. Arif Joarder, Bangladesh

Religion should stay out of the classroom, period Kent, Canada

It's unfair that the initial suggestion by Adel Smith to display a symbol from the Koran alongside the crucifix should have been denied. Therefore it's only fair that the crucifix be removed altogether to avoid creating a kind of religious superiority which is totally out of place in a multi-racial society. Patricia, Italy It will inflame tensions between faiths, but I think it is a fair ruling as long all faiths are respected Rodrigo, Paraguay

Religious symbols have no place in a classroom. Religion is undoubtedly a private matter and should be kept so in the future. Neil Jones, United Kingdom Religion should stay out of the classroom, period. Kent, Canada

Italy was born (less than 150 years ago) when the laws of Piedmont (a secular country) were extended to Italy at unification. Italy stayed secular until fascism, when Mussolini bought the support of the Catholic Church by turning back the clock on separation between religion and state. Hence the recent court judgment is in line with Italy's history and gives back to the Italians the secular state that is part of their democratic traditions. Silvio Sandrone, Turin, Piedmont (Italy)

Muslims want to have religious rights in Christian countries, do they grant the same rights to Christians in Muslim countries? Adam Schott, Australia

I strongly agree with the judge's decision. A fascist state was responsible for the current law. This issue is a no-brainer and the Vatican must be stopped from imposing its agenda on people who do not subscribe to it. Richard , US

Here in Italy, we have one hour a week of confessional catholic teaching in every school. If you don't like that you have to opt-out. In my opinion, that's the problem, not the crucifix. Paolo, Italy

Religious symbols should never be displayed in schools. And especially not symbols that promote one faith over all others. Keith, Canada

In state schools there is no place for one religion over another John, France

I don't mind religious symbols in public (as art). However, as children are so susceptible to the ideas of others above their own, it seems inappropriate for public school to "endorse" any religion. If children wish to express themselves (wearing crosses, headscarves), this seems innocent. It is the expression of the child and his or her family, rather than the state communicating a preference to the children. Aleta, United States

I can't accept that a judge is trying to erase a part of our culture and history with a sentence. And I can't accept that this request comes from a man who believes to be the head of Italian Muslims and who has always talked so badly of the Catholic religion. And so why don't we sweep off the Red Cross symbol? Michele, Italy

As a Christian I strongly believe that the Church and state must be kept separate and state must not and should not support or favour or endorse any one religion as this is a step toward state control of freedom. Crosses I feel are fine in home or in a local church but not in government-run institutions. Mark Flanagan, Sweden

I can't help thinking that if it had been the opposite and a Catholic had sought the removal of Islamic symbols, they would have been slammed for being racist. Once again national culture and history are sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. Dean, UK

All religious symbols should (must) be removed from public places and public use. They should be allowed in places of worship of the particular religion/belief or in any individual's home. Public no, schools no. Miklos Nomad, Hungary

In state schools there is no place for one religion over another and there should be no display of any symbol - crucifix, head scarf or turban. John, France Of course it will inflame tensions between faiths. Italy is, and has within it, the centre of the Catholic faith. To coin a phrase "When in Rome!" Les Woods, England/UK

Religion should be in schools only as part of history or psychology, studied with myths, legends, fairytales and superstitions. Nigel Rees, UK/USA

It will inflame tensions - Europe has been Christian for thousands of years and many will see this as foreigners removing our heritage. Tom, England

A complete ban on all religious symbols on the walls of schools could be put in place to "show the unequivocal desire by the state... to place Atheism at the centre of the Universe". Whatever is done will be wrong. As for inflaming tensions between religions, the whole effect of serious and committed religious belief is to preclude tolerance of others. No religion has ever accepted that others have a right to exist let alone that they might also be correct in their beliefs. After all their 'Holy Book' proves that they are right. Barry P, England

by Bollettino Osservatorio





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