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"Church of Scientology sues French state over anti-sect law"

(Agence France Presse, August 9, 2001)

The Church of Scientology on Thursday filed suit against the French state before the European Court of Human Rights charging that a new controversial anti-sect law was an assault on human liberty.
"There was nothing we could do in France to challenge this new law and our only recourse was the European court," said Jean Dupuis, a spokesman for the church in Paris.
The law adopted by the French National Assembly in May allows courts to shut down associations once found guilty of a range of crimes.
The Church of Scientoly, one of 172 groups officially designated as "sects" in France, has spearheaded a campaign against the bill, warning of the arbitrary powers it will give judges to suppress beliefs and behavious that run aginst the mainstream.
Several countries, including the United States, as well as the established churches, European deputies and human rights groups, have also voiced concern about the law.
"This bill targets any member of a minority religious movement," Dupuis said. "It goes against our right to excercise our religion and we won't stand for that.
" The Church of Scientolgy is here to stay and we are intent that our rights under the European conventions on human rights be respected."
He pointed out that the bill could set a dangerous precedent in that countries such as China were using it as an example to justify their crackdown on minority faiths like the Falungong spiritual movement.
Sponsors of the French law deny that it targets religious minorities, saying it is directed only against groups that use coercion, emotional pressure and mind-management techniques to indoctrinate individuals and enslave them to their cause.
The Church of Scientology has 30,000 followers in France and an estimated 10 million worldwide.
Founded by the science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, and based in Los Angeles, it is recognized as a religion in the United States but is considered a sect in some Western countries, including France, Germany and Greece where authorities contend that its leaders seek economic gain and use totalitarian methods to keep supporters in line.

Anti-Cult Law in France - Index Page
Full text of the law in French

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