Crucifix case: Press release of Professor Joseph Weiler

By ECLJ1300723143473

Press Release

1. Professor JHH Weiler of New York University School of Law and Honorary Professor at London University, represented, pro bono,  the Governments of Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, The Russian Federation and San Marino in the Lautsi Case before the Grand Chamber of the ECHR.

2. Because of the proximity of the Ruling to the beginning of the Sabbath, Professor Weiler was unable to be present at the Court. He has extended his apology to the Court and to the Governments of the States he represented.

3. He released the following Statement:

4. “I am cautiously satisfied with the outcome of the case, pending a more careful reading and evaluation of the Grand Chamber’s Ruling and reasoning.”

5. “Overturning the decision of the Chamber represents a rejection of a ‘One Size Fits All’ Europe and a vindication of its pluralist tradition in which equal dignity is accorded to the constitutional choices of a France and a Britain, an Italy and a Sweden and the other myriad formulae for recognizing religious symbols in the public space. Europe is special in that it guarantees at the private level both freedom of religion and freedom from religion, but does not force its various Peoples to disown in its public spaces what for many is an important part of the history and identity of their States, a part recognized even by those who do not share the same religion or any religion at all. It is this special combination of private and public liberties, reflecting a particular spirit of tolerance, which explains how in  countries such as, say, Britain or Denmark to give but two examples, where there is an Established State Church no less – Anglican and Lutheran respectively – Catholics, Jews, Muslims and, of course, the many citizens who profess no religious faith, can be entirely ‘at home,’ play a full role in public life including the holding of the highest office, and feel it is ‘their country’ no less than anyone else. It is an important model for the world of which Europe can be justly proud.”

6. “As regards the classroom, it falls in equal measure on those States who forbid any religious symbol on their classroom walls, and those who require it, to ensure that the prohibition or requirement are not misunderstood by the young members of our society. The prohibition of religious symbols should not be understood as a denigration of religion or religious people and the requirement of a religious symbol such as the cross, should not be understood as denigrating other religions or those who do not profess a religious faith at all. For the most part, this spirit is a contemporary European reality, Italy being a shining example.”

7. “I thank the eight governments for their trust and for the honor of representing them, as well as the Director and staff of the European  Center for Law and Justice for their valuable assistance in preparing our case.”

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