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Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

Catholic barrister: Crucifix ruling ‘an extraordinarily wide decision’

with one comment

Neil Addison, a British barrister, has made the following comment on the Italian crucifix ruling:

There is at present no judgment in English concerning the European Court of Human Rights decision in the Italian crucifix case however the ECHR has issued a press release which I reproduce below. This seems to me to be an extraordinarily wide decision which could be used, for example, to prevent state schools putting on nativity plays or even preventing Muslim teachers wearing hijabs in Schools, in the case of Dahlab v Switzerland in 2001 the ECHR defined the hijab as a “religious symbol” so there are a lot of implications in saying that religious symbols cannot be displayed in schools. What is most surprising is that the ECHR did not apply its own concept of ‘Margin of Appreciation’ and recognise that this type of question should be left to individual countries to decide. In effect the ECHR has extended to the whole of Europe the French concept of strict separation between religion and state schools which is contrary to the different educational traditions and systems in the separate nations of Europe.

We will have to see whether the ECHR may overrule itself on an appeal but it would have been interesting if this case had occured before the Irish voted on the Lisbon Treaty. Before anyone emails me pointing out that the ECHR is not part of the EU, yes I know, however the Lisbon Treaty contains a Charter of Fundamental Rights Articles 10 and 14 of which conform to the provisions considered by the ECHR in this case. Article 52.3 of the Lisbon Treaty Charter of Rights says that where the Charter is equivalent to the ECHR it shall be interpreted in acordance with the ECHR decisons so this decision on the Crucifix is, in effect now part of EU law which is binding on the 27 members of the EU. I will be interested to see how Cyprus, Malta, Greece and Poland react when they realise the implications of this case. Incidentally the Lisbon Treaty Charter of Rights has 50 separate rights, the USA has managed reasonably well for 200 years with a Bill of Rights of 10 articles but thats the EU for you.

Addison is an expert on religion law and national director of the Thomas More Legal Centre.

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Written by Luke Coppen

November 5, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Posted in secularism

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. Wow I am actually the only comment to this great article!?

    Laurie Willard

    May 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm


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