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French court orders government to lift ban on religious services

Anafi 1.6.4
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Freedom of worship is fundamental right, says administrative court of France’s Council of State.

Freedom of worship is a fundamental freedom and includes the right to participate collectively in religious ceremonies, said a court ruling in France on Tuesday.

The administrative court of France’s Council of State made the statement while ordering France to lift a ban against religious services that the state had imposed May 11 as part of anti-coronavirus measures. Only funerals have been allowed, with attendance limited to 20 people.

The government was ordered to lift the “general and absolute ban on assembly in places of worship” and to enact in its place “measures strictly proportionate to the health risks,” the court said. Less stringent measures than a ban on all gatherings in places of worship are possible, the court said.

A general and absolute prohibition is disproportionate in relation to the objective of preserving public health and thus constitutes a serious and manifestly unlawful interference on religious freedom, the panel said.

The court gave the government eight days to lift the ban, which was already set to expire June 2.

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