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Couple win fight to remove crucifix;Briefing;International

GERMANY

A couple who argued that Jesus on the cross was a male symbol degrading to their daughter have won a legal battle to have a classroom crucifix removed from a school in Bavaria.

Germany's highest civil court ruled in their favour, even though by law all schools in Catholic Bavaria must display a crucifix.

School authorities in the small town of Bruckmuehl - and Bavaria's state courts - had previously rejected the parents' plea, saying their objections to the crucifix lacked substance.

But the Berlin court said the reasons for the objections to the crucifix were not relevant. What counted was that the parents' will on religious matters is "clear and unambiguous".

However, the court judgment did not go so far as to rule that the ubiquitous crucifix violated freedom of religion. Since 1986, several parents' organisations and the German Green party have filed several lawsuits to have the crucifixes removed.

The Berlin-based Federal Administrative Court backed the Bavarian government, saying the crucifix law was not anti-constitutional. Freedom of religion was satisfied if crucifixes are removed when there are specific objections.

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