27 Oct 2009: The Paris Court concluded today that the Church of Scientology can continue its religious activities in France. They could not ignore the large community of Scientologists who are happy to practice their religion.
Despite this, this whole heresy trial has been tantamount to a modern-day inquisition, religion on trial. We will of course contest it until correct justice has been carried out, and will take it all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if needed. As the Prosecutor pointed out in 2006 when requesting that the case be dismissed, there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. That the case nevertheless went to trial was simply the result of pressure, carefully orchestrated to poison the court.
Scientology is not going away and is expanding more than ever. We believe that no-one has the right to tell the people of France what to think and what to believe. We support the French Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. We believe that, in this case, the group MIVILUDES, set up to fight against religious minorities, and its president George Fenech, have been doing everything they can to destroy freedom, destroy peace and take away people’s rights. The international report on religious freedom by the US Department of State, recently issued, once again condemning religious discrimination in France, stated that “the discriminatory treatment against Jehovah Witnesses and Scientologists is still causing worry”.
This case arises out of the five-month participation in 1998 by the main civil party in Scientology religious practices. These included the study of Scientology scriptures and the participation in spiritual counselling. A full refund of donations was given to the person concerned in November 1998, within weeks of their withdrawing their allegiance to the Church.
In 2006, the prosecutor recommended the case be dismissed because there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. Instead, the court succumbed to pressure from anti-religious extremists and turned it into a heresy trial in violation of the rights of the defendants under French law and under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The European Court of Human Rights has, on two recent occasions – ironically in Strasbourg, France – found that Churches of Scientology in Russia are entitled to the protection of religious freedom guaranteed by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The prosecutor and the court yielded to pressure from anti-religious extremists in MIVILUDES. The President of MIVILUDES, Georges Fenech, has been condemned for election fraud. In February 2009, Mr. Fenech called on the government to initiate a so-called official “sect list” in France similar to the infamous list established by a Parliamentary Commission in 1995, the very same thing that the government stopped using four years ago because of the overwhelming prejudice it caused to the religious organizations on the list and its misuse by MIVILUDES officials to justify harassment and persecution of religious minorities. This is a man the government is permitting to shape its discriminatory policies against religious minorities and is the reason France is being condemned by international human rights organizations for religious discrimination and intolerance.
The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954. Today there are more than 8,000 Scientology Churches, missions and groups in 165 countries. The Church sponsors the largest Human Rights education initiative in the world as well as the world’s largest non-governmental anti-drug programme. Scientology has expanded more in the last year than in the last five years combined and more in the last five years than in the last five decades combined.
We will continue to contest this until all defendants are given correct justice and acquitted.
For more information, contact:
Graeme Wilson on 01342 318 229 or firstname.lastname@example.org