Authorities outlaw "atheist" Easter procession*
The Government Delegation in Madrid has today banned an "atheist procession" being planned by various social groups for Maundy Thursday, having decided that it will be in conflict with the traditional Holy Week procession, a decision the organisers have described as "erroneous" and which they intend to contest.
The march, which was originally planned as a ceremony and later formalised as a demonstration has been organized by groups such as the Madrid Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (AMAL), Ateos en Lucha and the Lavapiés Beach Neighbourhood Association.
These groups had planned their march for the evening of Maundy Thursday, but the Delegation of the Government has banned the march, arguing that it coincides with the traditional processions and the authorities are unanimous in their disapproval of the event. The president of the Community of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre applauded the decision, saying it was wrong for people to be "free to offend the Catholics", and the mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon also welcomed the ban, saying the march would have been a "provocation".
The Madrid Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (AMAL) has announced its intention to appeal the ban, saying the authorities' arguments are "inaccurate" and "basically the same as those being voiced by fundamentalist Catholic groups" .
The AMAL President has acknowledged that the "atheist procession" will not be able to march through the streets of Madrid in a week's time, but has not ruled out a demonstration against the "reversal of fundamental rights and freedoms".