After an order from the German state of Bavaria, Christian crosses will be placed at the entrances to all its public buildings this month.
Markus Söder, the new leader of the largely conservative and heavily Catholic state, said that people shouldn’t necessarily interpret the crosses as religious symbols. In a statement, he asserted, “It stands for elemental values, such as charity, human dignity and tolerance.”
Some political leaders have opposed the move, noting that Germany’s constitution requires a degree of neutrality on religion.
“The constitution has no denomination,” said Christian Lindner, leader of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, according to USA Today.
Religious minority leaders also opposed the rule, which has been interpreted as a reaction to Muslim immigration in the country.
“We Muslims have no problem with the cross, even with the appreciation of religion in social life. However, state neutrality should always be respected,” Aiman Mazyek, a chairwoman with the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, said in a statement. “What does not work is the double standard of accepting Christian symbols, but banishing Muslim, Jewish or others from the public sphere.”