Spain court bans atheist march on Holy Thursday

A court has barred atheists from holding a march on Holy Thursday, saying that would be offensive to Spanish Catholics who mark Easter with processions of their own.

In Wednesday's ruling, the Madrid Superior Court of Justice upheld a ban imposed last week by the Interior Ministry office for the Madrid region.

That office had argued among other things that the march planned in the Lavapies district of Madrid would pass by several Catholic churches and could trigger clashes with conservative Catholics. The court also said it is necessary to "protect the tourist image" of the city.

The Madrid Association of Atheists and Free-Thinkers, one of the march organizers, said the ban shows there is no separation of church and state in Spain, a largely Catholic country.