Anger at Spanish military instruction to fly flags at half-mast for Easter

LEGIONNAIRES:  The Cristo de la Buena Muerte during Easter Week in Malaga LEGIONNAIRES: The Cristo de la Buena Muerte during Easter Week in Malaga Shutterstock

A ROW has broken out after Spain’s Ministry of Defence issued an order for all military installations to fly flags at half-mast over Easter in commemoration of the death of Jesus Christ.

A defence ministry spokesman said that the order is for religious reasons, and was “in keeping with tradition”.

He said, “It is part of the secular tradition of the armed forces.”

But the national ombudsman Francisco Fernandez Marugan, has criticised the order based on the grounds that Spain is constitutionally a secular state.

“These practices could lead people to think that the state was more inclined to honour one religion than another.”

Mr Fernandez Marugan said, “Even if this tradition has acquired a ‘secular’ connotation over the years there is no doubt that it also has a religious one.

It is not the first time that the Ministry of Defence has issued the order.

Last year in the instruction was, “From 14.00 on Holy Thursday until 00.01 on Resurrection Sunday the national flag must be flown at half-mast at all military units, bases, centres and barracks, as well as the Ministry of Defence and its regional departments.”

The ministry  said the decision was based on a ruling set out last year which states that members of the armed forces are authorised 'to take part in celebrations of a religious nature in which the military traditionally takes part.'

Karl Smallman

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