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Sunday, December 09, 2007

The German government considers Scientology a commercial enterprise.

BERLIN, Germany (AP) -- Germany's top security officials said Friday they consider the goals of the Church of Scientology to be in conflict with the principles of the nation's constitution and will seek to ban the organization.

The interior ministers of the nation's 16 states plan to give the nation's domestic intelligence agency the task of preparing the necessary information to ban the organization, which has been under observation for a decade on allegations that it "threatens the peaceful democratic order" of the country.

The Church of Scientology, in a response sent to CNN, denounced the German proposal, calling it out of step with various international court rulings. Read the Church of Scientology response

The ministers, as well as federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, "consider Scientology to be an organization that is not compatible with the constitution," said Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhart Koerting, who presided over the officials' two-day conference.

Sabine Weber, president of the Church of Scientology in Berlin, said she views the renewed attempt to ban the organization as a reaction to increasing acceptance of Scientologists in several European countries.

"It is very, very clear that the true picture of what Scientology is about is pushing its way through," Weber said. "The interior ministers are clearly reacting to that."

The Scientologists have long battled to end the surveillance, saying it is an abuse of their right to freedom of religion. They point to several lower court rulings in favor of their right to practice in Germany as a religious organization.

The U.S. State Department regularly criticizes Germany in its annual Human Rights Report for the monitoring practice.

The interior ministers gave no specific examples for their decision, but the most recent annual report on extremism compiled by their agencies criticized the organization for disregarding human rights.


"From a number of sources, some of them not available to the public, it has been determined that (the organization) seeks to limit or rescind basic and human rights, such as the right to develop one's personality and the right to be treated equally," the report said.

Earlier this year, the German government initially refused to allow the producers of a movie starring Scientology member Tom Cruise as the most famous anti-Hitler plotter to film at the site where the hero was executed, although it did not expressly state Scientology as its reason. It later allowed the production to go ahead.

The Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. It first set up in Germany in 1970 and officials estimate it counts some 6,000 members in the country.

CNN
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