Anger After Court Orders French Town To Remove Virgin Mary Statue

REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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A court has ordered a town in eastern France to remove a statue of the Virgin Mary or face a fine of 100 euros ($106) per day.

An administrative court has given the town of Publier three months to get rid of the statue in accordance with a nationwide ban on religious symbols in public spaces.

The statue has been standing on the shores of Lake Geneva since 2011, when the municipal government used public funds to put it up on state-owned land.

Publier subsequently sold the statue to a Roman Catholic association to get around the law. The organization was still not able to acquire the land, which made the statue illegal.

Publier Mayor Gaston Lacroix said he would try to relocate it to private land Saturday.

Critics have called the ruling a threat to “freedom of expression” and the start of “a new tyranny.”

France is one of the world’s most secular countries with a strong separation between religion and public life. It became the first European country to ban the burqa in 2010, and several other nations have since followed suit.

Several French communities banned the burkini, a full-body swimsuit sometimes worn by Muslim women, over the summer. A court later struck down the bans as unconstitutional.


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