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Italian
freethinkers have welcomed a court ruling that requires public schools to
provide alternatives to Catholic classes on religion. The Union of Rationalist
Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR), an IHEU member organization, provided financial and legal support for the case
brought by the parents of a child attending a state primary school in Padua.

While
her classmates were in their religion class (a course that focuses on teaching
the Catholic religion), the child was at first required to remain in the
classroom, even if she did not participate. Later she was told to spend the hour with school mates in another class, studying whatever was being taught
during that period.

According
to the court in Padua,
the creation of alternatives to the course on religion is not an option but an
obligation and the child in question was being subjected to two forms of
discrimination: “the exercise of her right to education and the exercise of her
right to religious freedom” were both being interfered with. Finding the school
and the Italian Minister of Public Instruction guilty of “illegitimate and
discriminatory practices,” the court imposed a fine of 1,500 euros.

“Just
after the case involving crucifixes in the classrooms, another important legal
victory has been won by UAAR, which threw its support behind this case,
contributing both financially and with legal advice,” the general secretary of
UAAR, Raffaele Carcano, affirmed. “We are only sorry that, in the pursuit of
our goal of transforming this country into a genuinely secular society, it has
been necessary yet again to seek redress through the courts.”

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