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Society

by Flora Beillouin

Scientology is Hit, but Not Yet Sunk

Translated Saturday 4 February 2012, by Henry Crapo and reviewed by Pauline Harrowell

The Paris branch of Scientology was convicted, Thursday morning, by the Paris Court of Appeals for "organized fraud". The sect announced it will appeal against the Court’s decision in Cassation.

"It’s a first." For Georges Fenech, president of the "inter-ministerial mission for vigilance and combat against sectarian excesses" [1], the decision pronounced yesterday morning by the Paris appeals court marks a turning point in the French saga of scientology. According to the magistrate, the judicial system had never before "so clearly condemned the scientology fraud", and the days are now numbered for the multi-national sect within the French boundaries. "Despite all their efforts to obstruct justice, scientology sees its very existence menaced in the short term," said Georges Fenech, delighted.

Over and above the confirmation of the fines of 400,000€ and 200,000€ demanded of the Celebrity Center and of the SEL library, the two main structures of French scientology, the Paris appeals court also convicted five scientologists for having taken advantage of the vulnerability of former followers of the sect, with the aim of obtaining from them large sums of money. Alain Rosenberg, the "veritable director" of Paris scientology, and Sabine Jacquart, former president of the Celebrity Center, condemned for organized fraud [2], were in particular conditionally sentenced to two years in prison, and were fined 30,000€.

The defendants and their lawyers did not deign to attend the reading of the decision, seeing in this decision the fruits of "a sort of phantom trial, with many irregularities and violations of fundamental rights."

Oliver Morice knows this music by heart, and does not let himself be disillusioned by their pretended lack of interest. "I believe we are at the beginning of other effective decisions against scientology, which could well lead to the outlawing of the sect, or to its dissolution," observed, yesterday, the lawyer for the National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and of Individual Victims of Sects (Unadfi). The association, which has already managed to obtain the status permitting it to bring suit for damages, made a point of saluting this advance, with its international implications.

In its decision, the court makes special reference to the scientology "personality test", offered to all comers as a means of seducing new recruits. Always interpreted as "extremely negative", as the court describes it, "it has not the slightest scientific value," and "has only a financial purpose", serving as bait to trap new victims into yielding up "sums of money having no common measure" with their means.

France is the birthplace of laicity

Outside the court chambers, three computer pirates from the organization "Anonymous", of whom one wore the famous black and white mask, celebrated the news. "France is the birthplace of laicity. This is a historic decision," said one of them, not in disguise. They had most likely not forgotten, nor forgiven, the blows that scientologists rained down on the face of one of their colleagues, Nono the Clown, at their most recent Paris demonstration.

[1Mission interministerielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires (Miviludes)

[2It’s more emphatic in French: "escroquerie en bande organisée"!


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