STRASBOURG (AFP) – – Italy on Wednesday began its appeal against a European Court of Human Rights ruling condemning the display of crucifixes in Italian schools in a case that could affect all of Europe. The court’s ruling in November found the display of crucifixes in Italian schools breached the rights of non-Catholic families, drawing howls of anger from Church and political leaders in the staunchly Roman Catholic country. Italy’s education minister attacked the initial ruling that crucifixes “restrict the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions,” insisting the crucifix was a “symbol of our tradition.” Italian mother Soile Lautsi, whose two children attended a state school near Venice, took her case to the European court after a long battle pitting her against Italy’s Catholic establishment. Catholicism was the state religion in Italy until 1984, and a 1920s ruling ordering the presence of crucifixes in schools was never abolished. The court’s final ruling could be applicable to schools in all the Council of Europe’s 47 member states.

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