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WARSAW, December 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Polish appeals court ruled on Dec. 9 that a crucifix placed over the doors of the parliamentary debating chambers in 1997 may stay where it is.

“The presence of a cross in parliament does not infringe on [the defendants'] personal rights,” concluded Judge Edyta Jefimko in dismissing a bid by members of the small leftist opposition “Your Movement” party to have the religious symbol removed. 

“The cross is a religious symbol, but its importance as a symbol of national identity and culture cannot be ignored,” Jefimko said according to a Polskie Radio report. 

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The MPs from the anti-clerical Your Movement party had claimed that as atheists, the presence of a cross in the debating chamber violated their rights to freedom of conscience and religion. 

When the case was initially taken to court in 2011, an opinion poll conducted by TNS OBOP found that 71 percent of respondents were in favor of having the cross remain in the parliamentary building. 

Your Movement party leader Janusz Palikot criticized the ruling, vowing to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. “We're going to take the cross case to Strasbourg. The law must be observed. We are not going to give up,” Palikot wrote on Twitter. 

However, Prime Minister Donald Tusk told Polskie Radio that he welcomed the verdict, saying that separation of church and state should not be expressed through “fights over whether the cross should be put up or not.”

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