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Siedlecka, Ewa

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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland | 16/06/2010

Poland's schools reveal pupils' religious denomination

Polish schools are breaching their obligation to remain silent about the religious denomination of their pupils, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday. The ruling was prompted by the fact that Polish teachers simply put a slash in the religion and ethics category when they don't offer courses in ethics and the pupils don't attend religious education because they don't believe in a Christian god. The liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza welcomes the ruling: "The freedom of conscience and to profess a religion is a fundamental human right. In Poland, the notion that this human right only affects the professing of a religion - namely the Roman Catholic religion - has taken root. There is no mention of the right to remain silent about one's beliefs. ... Our constitutional court is not interested in what happens in practice. Yesterday Strasbourg criticised it for this. This is the first case of such criticism. It doesn't exactly throw a favourable light on Poland's constitutional court. ... In Poland there is not a single public institution that makes an effort to draw attention to the rights of non-believers and pupils who belong to other religions. How embarrassing."

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