France and Poland clash over court ruling to remove cross from late Pope Jean Paul II statue

30 Oct

The ruling also sparked a backlash on Twitter of those outraged by the French ruling under the hashtag #montretacroix (show your cross). One commentator even likened the Council of State to Isil.

The statue by Russian artist Zourab Tsereteli had been controversial from the outset, with a group of locals and the secularist National Federation of Free Thought campaigning to have it removed.

Conservative and far-Right officials in France expressed outrage, with Valérie Boyer, MP for the Right-wing Republicans party exclaiming: “When will this madness consisting of trying to erase our roots end?”

Louis Aliot, vice president of the Front National, claimed the “iniquitous” decision could precipitate “the destruction of our Judeo-Christian society”.  

The Catholic Church, however, called the ruling “balanced” while France’s secularism watchdog, ODL, said it simply upheld the 1905 law. Claims that it could lead to crosses being dismantled from churches or graveyards were “totally unfounded” it said, as these were excluded from the law.

Ploërmel’s embatteld mayor, Patrick Le Diffon, said: “I have no desire to rekindle a war of religion.”

He has come up with a compromise. Considering that hacking off the cross could “cause unrest”, he intends to sell the public land it is on to a private investor thus circumventing the problem.

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