UCL FACULTY OF LAWS
INSTITUTE OF GLOBAL LAW

 

Institute of Global Law

Italian Legal News

OCTOBER 2003


Decisions
On 23/10/03 the Tribunale Civile (a first instance tribunal for civil law matters) of L’Aquila has ordered the headmaster of a primary school in Ofena to remove the crucifix from the wall of the classroom used by two Muslim pupils. The decision followed a two-year dispute between the father of the two pupils (the President of the Italian Muslim Union) and the school. Following the father’s initial complaints, the headmaster agreed to remove the crucifix in their classroom. However, this lead to an uprising of the other parents and the crucifix was reinstated. The father then asked the school to display the Koran Sura n.112 which states “There is no God but Allah”, but the Sura was immediately removed by the other parents. The presence of the crucifix in schools and public buildings is provided for by two Royal Decrees of 1924 and of 1928, which were reconfirmed in 1984 when the agreement between the Catholic Church and the Italian State was revised. This judgment has generated a very heated political and legal debate. The parties of the ruling coalition have been incensed by the judge’s assertion that “the crucifix is no longer part of the Italian common heritage”. Parents at the school have already declared that they will openly defy the judgment. From a legal perspective the decision has been severely criticised because the judge disapplied the existing legislation of his own motion by claiming that it contrasted with the pluralism guaranteed by the Italian Constitution. However, in the event of an alleged tension between a law and a constitutional norm, ordinary judges do not have the authority to disapply the law in question, but must instead request a preliminary ruling by the Constitutional Court. An appeal against the decision is expected.

See recent German decision on the hijab
See German Crucifix decision.



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