06/30/2010, 00.00
INDIA

For atheist human rights activist, crucifix in Italian classrooms not against secularism

Nirmala Carvalho
According to Lenin Raghuvanshi, “Human rights and democracy do not exist in a vacuum, in a value-neutral space. Denying the identity, culture and history of a society is a violation of secularism and human rights.”
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – “The crucifix in Italian classrooms is not a tradition that goes against the values of secularism,” Indian human rights activist Lenin Raghuvanshi told AsiaNews.

“A secular education means learning from history and logic. Jesus Christ brought peace, reconciliation, non-violence and justice in the world,” said Raghuvanshi who was just awarded the 2010 City of Weimar Human Rights Prize. “It is important that children study this historical personality.”

For the activist, who is atheist, the future of democracy and human rights depends “on ethical views that are the basis of a culture,” which “cannot be separated from that culture without destroy it. Human rights and democracy do not exist in a vacuum, in a value-neutral space. Denying the identity, culture and history of a society is a violation of secularism and human rights.”

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, which acts as the institution’s appeal court, today began examining an appeal launched by Italy against a sentence the court itself issued on 3 November 2009 against the presence of the crucifix in Italian classrooms, deemed a violation of pupils’ religious freedom.

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