Archive for the ‘Italy’ category

Corruption in Europe

October 28, 2010

Transparency International (TI) published its annual report on corruption and Greece now ranks as the most corrupt member state of the EU, taking the spotlight off Romania and Bulgaria which have moved slightly up the TI ‘corruption index’ to just ahead of Greece. Also struggling with corruption, according to the scales used by TI, are the Czech Republic, Italy and Hungary. Their TI score has fallen since last year’s report. Russia’s score has also fallen although Ukraine’s has risen and its corruption index is now slightly ahead that of Russia. The UK ranks 20th out of 178 countires surveyed, its lowest for several years.

Outstanding among the European countries is Denmark, which ranks at number one in the list, sharing that position with Singapore and New Zealand.

The impact on the Greek economy has been noted by leading Greek experts who have estimated that corruption probably costs  the country several billion dollars per year. This is doubtless true for other European countries that also struggle to eliminate or reduce corruption. The report’s authors do not attempt a correlation between the corruption index and majority Christian traditions in each of the European countries. This would in theory be possible though in all probability would be seen as controversial.

More information is available from http://transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

 

The old rugged cross: ban or cherish?

September 13, 2010

We’re just working on the October edition of Vista, our quarterly research bulletin. The theme is secularisation and we’ve been researching how the personal or institutional display of a crucifix is increasingly a focus for social policy legislators. It may be too early to predict patterns, but the forthcoming ruling from the European Court of Human Rights may prove important to this whole debate (read more about that below). Our attention to the public displaying of crucifixes follows last quarter’s look at the wearing of Burqas in public. A quick round-up of recent decisions regarding the wearing or displaying of crosses in public  includes:

  • In October 2006 a British Airways check-in worker was banned by her employers from wearing a small crucifix around her neck. Of Egyptian ethnicity, Nadia Eweida, was told by BA that the wearing of all publically visible jewellery was forbidden by the company.
  • In January 2007 Robert Napier School in Gillingham, Kent, ordered a 13 year-old Roman Catholic schoolgirl, Samantha Devine to remove her crucifix at school because it posed a health and safety risk. The school indicated it would be happy with a cross worn in Samantha’s blazer lapel.
  • In December 2008 a Spanish court ruled that it was inappropriate for a state school to display crucifixes in its classrooms. Earlier that year, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance had supported the omission of crucifixes from public ceremonies and a law guaranteeing the religious neutrality of public officials.
  • In November 2009 the European Court of Human Rights, sitting in Strasbourg, ruled that an Italian school’s refusal to remove the crucifix following the request of Finnish-born Italian Soile Lautsi that it be removed from her children’’ classrooms was a ‘violation of parents’ rights’ to educate children in accord with their convictions. The ruling was expected to have repercussions across all 47 Council of Europe member states. Italy appealed the judgement in June 2010 and awaits a final ruling.
  • In April 2010 a British nurse, Shirley Chaplin, lost her appeal to wear a crucifix at work. The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust argued that the cross and necklace she had worn for over 40 years was a health and safety risk. The Trust suggested she wear a lapel pin or cross earrings.
  • In April 2010, a German First Minister, Aygül Őzkan who is of Turkish heritage, , called for a ban on crucifixes in state schools in Lower-Saxony and Germany. She withdrew her suggestions following criticism from members of the ruling CDU to which she belongs.
  • In June 2010 the Spanish Government introduced a draft Law of Freedom of Religion and Conscience which regulates the use of the crucifix, including its removal from public places such as schools, hospitals and council buildings. The Spanish EA interpreted the use of crucifixes in such places as evidence of a ‘confessional state’, something to which they remain opposed.
  • In June 2010 an Amsterdam appeal court ruled that the city’s public transport authority was within its rights to ban an Egyptian-born tram conductor from wearing a crucifix. The judge ruled that the transport authority was correct in imposing a ban on the basis that the crucifix was attached to a necklace, not the fact that it was worn visibly.
  • During August, 2010, in Roman Catholic majority Poland, 80% of respondents in an online poll of 11,000 urged the removal of a cross from the square in front of the Presidential palace commemorating the death of the former President in an air crash.
  • The BBC reported in August 2010 that in Greece, the human-rights NGO, Helsinki Monitor, has urged Greek Courts to remove icons from its chambers and drop the practice of requiring witnesses to swear oaths on the Bible.

We’ll also summarise the reasons for and against displaying crosses in public. If you’d like to receive a copy of Vista by email please contact us at rb@novaresearch.eu or jmemory@redcliffe.org

How important is religion to you?

September 9, 2010

At the end of August, Gallup released news of a 2009 survey examining the importance of religion for the population of 114 countries, based on telephone and face-to-face interviews. The global average for those who said that religion was important in their daily lives was 84% but this number dipped as low as Estonia (16%) and as high as Italy (72%) in Europe. Other European countries in the survey polled as follows: United Kingdom (27%) and 109th in the list of 114 countries. Denmark and Sweden were lower than the UK whilst France (30%), Germany (40%) and Spain (49%) were higher.

Further statistical  information and the Gallup press release are available by clicking here.

March for religious liberty in Rome

July 20, 2010

The World Evangelical Alliance reports on a recent religious liberty gathering in Rome which culminated in a gathering at Campo de’ Fiori, the place where ‘heretics’ through the centuries have been burnt.

The event organisers, including the Italian Evangelical Alliance, called for fairer treatment and more equitable access for religious minority groups by the state broadcaster RAI.

For more see the report at: http://www.worldevangelicals.org/news/article.htm?id=2985&cat=main