Ecrivez-nous : 117, rue de Charenton, 75012 Paris
ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST
SPIRITUAL AND THERAPEUTICAL MINORITIES IN FRANCE
Paris, March 3, 2000
highly trained engineer, Michel was accused of being a spy and had to resign
from his own company.
I am an engineer, a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique [one of the most prestigious schools in France], and have been a Scientologist for 25 years. In 1990, I established a computer company with a partner who was not a Scientologist. Altogether, we employed 22 people. I was the only Scientologist in the company. The commercial manager of our company had obtained a contract to install software in the RAID's headquarters. The RAID is a unit of the police department which acts in emergency cases of hostage taking, terrorism or to handle violent criminals.
Being naive, I thought these people deserved to be helped as they were risking their lives every day. This contract had been obtained through normal commercial channels. It went very well up to the moment the press said I was a Scientologist, and therefore I was not only infiltrating the RAID but also spying for the benefit of a "cult." This made big headlines. A notable example appeared in Le Figaro, "The Ministry of the Interior [Law Enforcement], a cult's client." Some fifty articles were published about this. I had to defend myself on the radio and on TV. In spite of the fact that I was the only Scientologist in the company, Le Canard Enchaîné wrote that we are "a gang of scientos infiltrating the police." I resigned in order to protect the company from these ridiculous accusations.
Overnight, I lost everything I had created. I was forced to fight. I sued the newspapers, which were accusing me of being a spy. I won most of the cases.
In the newspaper Libération, a full page was devoted to accusing me of having obtained this contract due to the intervention of a Scientologist agent infiltrated at the Ministry of the Interior. Once he was in front of the judge, the lawyer of Libération recognized that this was not true. The newspaper was sentenced and there was no appeal. I am giving this example to demonstrate the lengths that a paper which otherwise has an excellent reputation will go to invent a completely fictitious story such as this one. According to the journalist, within the D.S.T. - Direction of Security of the Territory [Anti terrorist forces] - some people had a good reason to be against us. In France the police manipulate the journalists and vice-versa. I want to state here, publicly, that I never gave the smallest piece of information about my work to the Church of Scientology and of course, the Church never asked for any.
While this press campaign was going full blast, my partner went to see ADFI to ask them to stop confusing our company with the Church of Scientology.
Three years later, after rebuilding my whole life from scratch, I have created another activity.
Often, in my new profession, which has nothing to do with what I had been doing before, contracts are suddenly canceled. I suspect that this is due to police intervention. I have asked through the C.N.I.L. - National Commission on Computers and Freedom [a body that is organized to protect citizens from the abusive use of computer files]- to be granted access to the file which the Renseignements Généraux has on me. I was told they did in fact have a file on me but that I could not have access to the data for reasons of "national security." The French government gives itself the right to keep files on people for no other reason than their political and religious opinions, and then to deny them access to the contents of their file.
A legal action is pending with the Administrative Court to allow me access to my file. I think all this will go up to the European Court of Justice.
Rennes, May 17, 2000
opened a shelter for the homeless. She was placed on the list of "dangerous
What a surprise to be suddenly considered a "dangerous cult" when one has been left alone for so long in an association which counted 30 people at the most.
It wouldn't have been possible without someone denouncing us. We wanted to experience something, imagine a better future with more brotherhood, less egoism. Nobody ever paid any attention to us.
The "Village du Verseau" [Aquarius Village] was a piece of land legally bought and managed. We wanted to make it a welcoming place, not an institution of some sort. We often welcomed passers-by, beggars, dropouts... he could stay as long as he wanted, we gave him what we could, we gave him shelter, drank some tea with him, listened to him... It was not a religious community at all. It was more an experiment on life in common. I lived alone in that place. The others didn't live there, they liked the project, that's all.
We've always been on friendly terms with the people of the village except with one person who had psychiatric problems and who had some interest in having us out of the way. Then I found out from the newspaper that we were a "cult." Officially there was nothing against us. It only happened later, with a journalist who desperately wanted to find "cults" in Brittany. I must say nobody visited me while I was there. I never had any problems with the police or with the village people. Later I found out that we were a dangerous cult listed in the parliamentary report. I laugh about it today.
I wrote to Mr. Alain Gest, the member of parliament who wrote the report. I never got an answer.
May 17, 2000, In Rennes.
a yoga teacher and educator, opened a center. As a result of harrassment and
media attacks, the center had to be closed. R. found himself in serious financial
difficulties and his wife divorced him.
I founded a yoga center in St-Lô, in the Manche region, in 1991, and also the "Arc-en-Ciel" association. The yoga center was very popular and expanding. Later I asked the regional department of Youth and Sports how we could get recognition from them or if they could give us something which would give us credibility with schools, since we wanted to develop a training method to help children prepare for exams.
In 1996, I sent out several letters but none of them were answered. In May 1997, one of my pupils called an officially published phone number at The Ministry of Youth and Sports which gave information about "cults" in Normandy. Hugo, a pupil of mine, was told by a woman on the phone that there were two dangerous organizations in the region: "la Fraternité Blanche Universelle," and the "Arc-en-Ciel," which was supposedly a branch of "La Fraternité Blanche" in St-Lô and in Brittany!
I went to see the person who had spoken with my pupil on the phone and told her the purpose of our association and what we were doing to help our pupils' self improvement and relaxation. Her mind was completely made up and she didn't listen to a word I was telling her. She said, "Listen, there is a parliamentary report where several organizations such as yours are listed." Unable to listen to reason, she had it in her mind that we were a cult even though we were not even on the list that she mentioned. I invited her to come and visit our center anyway. She came with a delegation of the Youth and Sports Ministry in St Lô. We explained everything again. But she wouldn't move from her opinion that we were a cult. No dialogue seemed possible.
Then I was called by a journalist of La Manche-Libre, a much-read newspaper in the St Lô region. He said he had been investigating us and was preparing an article. He said that if I didn't talk to him I would be in serious trouble. I fell right into the trap. His interview was very well prepared so that everything I said could be interpreted negatively and turned against me. This article was published, together with an interview with a staff member from the Ministry.
The headline of the article was, "Yoga Investigated." In short, the message of the article was that yoga was an "illegal practice of medicine." All this was because we had written in our leaflets that yoga "promotes health and helps people over difficult times." People from the Ministry now consider these practices to be "bordering on medicine," when for the last 40 years at least, almost every book about yoga published in France has stated that yoga can promote good health.
One of the pupils we had trained was ready to take over the management at the center. After reading that article, he decided he didn't want to do it. So we closed the center. Nobody wanted to take it on under such conditions. Two other people employed at the center lost their jobs.
For me personally it was a heartbreak because of all the friends I had made in Normandy over the past ten years. I had to end my relationship with some people because they couldn't understand that newspapers could lie and twist the truth. For them anything that is in the papers is true. Unfortunately, the suits for libel we started were delayed for various reasons. Personally I was devastated by that article. I am convinced that it was planned. Psychologically I went through hard times. Finally I had to leave the region. I had no future there. So I settled again in Brittany where I started a new small center where I have been teaching for a year.
Meanwhile, my family life was shattered, the pressures eventually leading to a divorce. I went through serious financial difficulties. I even had to resort to welfare when I have been financially independent since I was 18. I am left only with a determination to see that justice is done and that those persons who did this take responsibility for their actions.
Rennes, May 17, 2000
speaks on behalf of the founder of a charity and prayer group who was accused
of being the "guru of a cult."
"L'Arche de Marie" [Mary's Ark] is an international missionary congregation and a non-profit organization. Its purpose is to defend the Catholic faith and Human Rights. All our activities are related to the Catholic Church. The association "L'Arche de Marie" is now on the list of "cults" in the parliamentary report. In the press, our association has been presented as a "cult" with pictures of the cross of l'Arche de Marie and the person who runs it portrayed as a "guru." She does not feel safe to go out anymore and she has lost many of her members.
There has even been a strange misidentification with the OTS (Solar Temple Organization). FR3 Bretagne-Rennes (French TV) came to the "Arche de Marie" in Carana. They wanted to film what was going on because we were holding a rosary and our director was talking about faith in the Scriptures. The rosary is a traditional form of devotion to the Virgin Mary, and includes the Hail Mary, the Lord's Prayer and a doxology. There is nothing wrong or strange about this mode of prayer. It is performed in Catholic Churches all over the world. Due to misinformation from the press we are branded as a "cult," led by a "guru." Our director is discreet, the total opposite of a guru. She is tired of being thought of this way. In our organization, there is no pressure, no brain-washing, no demands for money. It is free. We are free to attend services or not, as we will. Kind members of our congregation often make donations. They are not coerced into this, but do it freely. We regard charity as an important virtue. By these means, we have paid for the studies of young people from Africa, Lebanon and so on.
Here is a letter from Father Boulanger who, since 1991, has been the spiritual leader of the "Arche de Marie":
"I certify that l'Arche de Marie founded by Mrs. Marie-Claudine Pouteau is a benevolent and spiritual activity created to serve the Catholic Church in the world, reminding people of Christ's Gospel and his Church; that it is placed under the Presiding Honorship of his Beatitude Raphaël Bidaoui, first papal legate in the Orient; that it has been blessed in its Calvary in Carano by this same papal legate, his Beatitude Bidaoui, on May 22, 1995; that it has received the benediction and the encouragement of his Holiness Pope Jean-Paul II. Consequently I, the undersigned, confirm and attest that anyone who is a member of the "Arche de Marie" may receive the message of the Gospel of his own free will, whatever his nationality or color, thus respecting Human Rights and Liberties. A man who is free in body and spirit may practice the Christian teachings and the messages of the Gospel. He helps and supports his brothers in need. One cannot insult the "Arche de Marie," which is a bona fide Christian organization, and call it a "cult."
Paris March 3, 2000
a teacher, had her teaching certificates canceled and her job as a director
I have been a teacher for 30 years and a Scientologist for 10 years. During these 30 years, my life has always run smoothly. I like my job, I have had two routine visits from the inspector during the last 10 years and was given excellent reports and very good marks. I passed an advanced schoolteacher internship eighteen months ago and I passed another exam which allows one to be accepted on the aptitude list by the Inspector of the Academy. Last May, I was to become the director of a kindergarten.
The inspector came to see me in my classroom during school time. I was summoned to appear on May 7 at 11 a.m. in the headmistress's office, a person with whom I had a good professional relationship. The inspector directly asked me the question: " Yes or no, do you belong to the Church of Scientology?" I said I was a Scientologist and had been for 10 years. He continued: "It is an extremely dangerous cult. I do not know what it is and I do not want to know what it is, but the commission on cults has labeled it as an extremely dangerous cult." Following this, I was called by the Inspector of the Academy who asked me the same question and again I answered that I was a Scientologist. He did not grant me promotion to the post of director which I had been expecting and he canceled my aptitude certificate for the post.
I wrote to the Minister of National Education to request permission for access to my file, and was allowed to see it in September. Also, after receiving a letter from my lawyer, the inspector was obliged to reinstate my aptitude certificate.
I was told that the person who had "denounced" me as a Scientologist at the Inspection of Academy was the former headmistress with whom I had had a good professional relationship. In December 1998, she had made a Christmas Crèche (Nativity scene) in the school. She was reading the Bible to the children during school time inside the building. Though I am personally tolerant to religious beliefs, this violates the separation of Church and State in a non-religious public school. I asked the Academy Inspector what was the difference between my case and this headmistress' case. He answered that Catholicism was a recognized religion.
Tours, June 29, 2000
and his friend Dr. Dietrich founded an association against pedophilia. They
were accused of being a cult and denied venues for public lectures and had
events canceled. Ismaël himself has lost contracts in his personal job
as a result.
I am testifying in the name of the International Front against Pedophilia (FLIP). Since 1998, we have been organizing conferences all over France with the purpose of denouncing cases of pedophilia. We are investigating at a national level of course, but since there are large international pedophile networks and even child prostitution networks, we have found ourselves compelled to investigate at an international level.
The technique employed by these people is to use 14 and 15-year-old children who are just entering puberty. At this age, a child is still weak. They manipulate them, film them and blackmail them. This has been going on for more than 50 years. They are much better organized than we are and have a lot more support than we do.
Almost 10 years ago, in 1989, we held our first conference in Guéret, in the Creuse region. Someone from the town hall lent us a room free of charge. Before our conference they recorded a show for Radio France with Doctor Dietrich, a psychotherapist specializing in the field of sexology. We thought that because of his training, he might be able to help people understand what goes on in a pedophile's mind. Since my sister works for Radio France, I asked her to interview him.
We went ahead with our conference. The show with Dr Dietrich was not broadcast on that same day, but the next day. That day I had to go to Paris on business. Upon my return, the owner of the shop where I was working said to me, "What are these stories about cults I heard on Radio France?" He added, "You belong to a cult! The cult which organized the conference against pedophilia."
I was shocked to hear an ordinary citizen whom I thought knew and appreciated me, suddenly accuse me of "Belonging to a cult and organizing a conference AGAINST pedophilia!" The sad thing is that they turned it around so that the problem is no longer pedophilia, but the "cult" which organized the conference against pedophilia. That's very interesting.
After this, several of my clients regarded me strangely and I lost many contracts.
I asked to meet the director of Radio France Creuse. I believe him to be a good man, honest and upright. It turned out that the Radio France journalists in Guéret had called the Medical Association to get more information on Doctor Dietrich, and the Medical Association had answered, "Oh it's a good thing that you called, you need to contact an association called "Save us from cults." So they called this association and were told by the president of the association, "Doctor Dietrich manipulates people and is the guru of a cult."
After that we created an organization and named it, "The International Front against Pedophilia." We created files on various cases. Doctor Dietrich is a very important person in the fight against pedophilia. He is an upright and sincere man in his fight. No doubt he is a dangerous man for pedophiles, because he puts his social situation at risk for the sake of justice and truth.
What I forgot to mention is that all the files we are working on in this association are "red hot" cases. There are many associations fighting pedophilia. But all the cases we are working on are cases concerning politicians, men of influence. These are cases other similar associations do not dare to work on, because they would be destroyed.
You have to understand that in France, the only pedophiles who are exposed are those people who are workers earning a minimum wage, or who are unemployed.
It is the same in Guéret where there have been many cases of pedophiles raping children and escaping with no punishment at all. The case is suddenly closed and the story runs that the little girl lied. Cases are covered up.
The worst incident happened during the last conference we tried to organize. We had signed a contract to rent a large room in the Town Hall and had published the date of the conference on the Internet. A leaflet was distributed throughout the Guéret region which read, "The FLIP : The International Front against Pedophilia," and gave the address, the place and the time of the conference. The program included exhibitions of works from painters and sculptors artists of the Creuse, traditional music from central France and, for children, pottery workshops, circus workshops, ball games, and so on. Then the FLIP was to present its work and communicate the results obtained since the last conference in Guéret in December 1998. Finally, Doctor Dietrich was to close the event with a conference and debate on abuse and pedophilia. A video of victims' testimonies was to be sold after the conference. We had many volunteers working with us. It was to be a big event.
Then the Town Hall management was informed of a rumor that our organization is a "cult," and they immediately sent me a letter stating that they would cancel the convention. I found out about this at the last minute. A lot of money had been spent, many people had been invited, all the inhabitants of Guéret knew about it. You can imagine the faces of the people who turned up to find there was no conference.
As for me, I couldn't possibly belong to a "cult" because I am a Muslim. I say it openly today. Before I used to hide the fact, as I did not consider that one's religion needs to be public knowledge. It is something intimate, private. I do not see why I should shout it on the rooftops, but now I am forced to say to everyone, "Leave me alone, I am not the guru of a 'cult,' I am a Muslim."