U.S. State Department report cites German discrimination against Scientologists

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some local authorities and private firms in Germany use ''sect filters'' focused on the U.S.-based Church of Scientology in hiring and contracting, the annual report from the U.S. State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom said.

The report said the worst religious repression exists in China, Cuba, Laos, Myanmar, North Korea and Vietnam. It also singled out Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for hostility to particular religions.

On Germany, the report said federal agencies in that nation have discouraged property sales to Scientologists. Civil service job applicants in Bavaria are required to list Scientology ties and followers elsewhere report employment problems.

The German government has said Scientology has some traits of organized crime that potentially undermine democracy and placed it under scrutiny by domestic intelligence agents in 1997.

In France, the report said, the government continues to monitor sects under a 2001 law, causing believers to allege intolerance. There is concern that countries in eastern Europe may follow France's lead in treating minority religions.

Japan's government continues to monitor Aum Shinri Kyo, the doomsday cult that attacked Tokyo subways with nerve gas in 1995, the report said.

Now called Aleph, the cult must report members' names and addresses every three months. The report listed several instances of discrimination against present and former followers.


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