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NEWS AND INVESTIGATIONS
National congress on news religious trends
A congress was organized by lawyers in Paris on January 29th to examine whether the new forms of religious expression would be a challenge for modern laicite. More than 20 speakers did participate, and the debate focused on several questions :
After an historical summary of the interventions by the french State into " anti-cult war " during the last 15 years, the theory and practice of the State as regards to religions was discussed. On one side, the official speech presents itself as " universal ", absolute and not subject to experience or criticism, on the other end, State institutions make many breaks in principles, helping out certain religions under " cultural " reasons, etc. In fact that " laicite " is used mainly because of political interests, more than for its principles. As a curiosity, the subject of religious minorities is the only domain where the State has excluded scholars and specialists from consultations or decisions.
Also, a speaker stressed that the new MIVILUDES deciding to fight " sectarian attitudes " instead of precise groups may be more dangerous, targetting then everybody. The President of the French Protestant Federation, as a public participant, stressed that " laicite " is not new in Europe, but " combative laicite " is really a French specificity.
Later on, Pr Jean Bauberot explained that laicite is tied in with democracy, which sets rights for minorities. Speaking of France, human rights seem to have deserted the french nation, once a leader on that subject, and are now discussed at a european or international level. The institutions, which were supposed in the 50's to educate people to freedom are less and less untrusted to do so, hence many new trends outside the mainstream in many domains.
As a synthesis, the question was brought up as to whether the 2001 About-Picart law should be cancelled, and a word from the congress President Jacques Robert, former member of the Constitutional Council, was reminded : " France will be condemned by the European Court for its treatment of religious minorities ".
A Protestant Minister goes to front
A new type of work has just been published, " Possible faith in the heart of laicite ", at Harmattan, by Dominique Kounkou, a minister and a sociologist as well.
This book undertakes a rehabilitation of two main aspects of spiritual search which are attacked nowdays by a so-called " laic " society : healing, understood more generally as physical, spiritual, social, political or economical. It has always been associated with all religious traditions. Secondly, the author goes through the " gift " issue (time, energy, money): this reality is essential in religious activity, although the religious relationship does not start nor end with financial relationship. This fact is what is eternal with religion.
France being pointed at : Europe confirms
In its December 12th 2002 report, the Comittee Regarding Freedoms and Rights of Citizen (an emanation of the European Parliament) devotes a whole chapter to freedom of thought, conviction and religion.
Observing that quite a few countries in Europe (at large) show intolerance towards non recognized or minority religions, the report mentions that some governments, as France, have leaded active campaigns against groups qualified as " cults ".
As examples, it is noted that the Church of Scientology is recognized as a religion by Sweden and Portugal, but considered as a " cult " by 5 other countries. Same situation regarding Jehovah's Witnesses. Many courts decisions are not followed by governments.
The report states also that the french About-Picart law is harming groups qualified as cults and sets up a discrimination towards those.
FR3 TV channel condemned
recently, the president of MIVILUDES made wishes that new court decisions
(precedents) give a support to the actions of MIVILUDES which are disapproved
by the constitution.
A (conclusive) sentence which may lead to many more !
Towards a zero tolerance within Congress
The anti-cults trend is composed of strange characters. An example, judge Fenech (who is also a Member of Parliament since May 2002), who restlessly proposes anti-cults measures on almost every subject, and did win fame in the past with a slogan : " Tolerance zero ", thus adressing the suburbean criminality among young people.
Alas ! Life is crual. just after himself had been involved in an arms dealing affair (Falcone case), Jean-Louis Voirain, his second and former secretary of APM, an association of lawyers which was then directed by G. Fenech, has been charged with corruption as a lawyer in Bobigny Court.
What about zero tolerance within the Congress ?
MIVILUDES : Words by its president
In an interview to Human Rights without Frontiers Int., the President of MIVILUDES (French governmental committee of watch and fight against sectarian practices, replacing the MILS), Jean-Louis LANGLAIS, reveals his strategy.
He states from the beginning that " sectarian pratices " are no more defined than " cults ". He expects courts decisions to define this concept in the future - we know what this means.
The rest of the interview suggests that MIVILUDES will apply the same strategy as the former MILS. One can read that it will expand its " fight " towards non conventional medicine and self improvement activities. It will keep its good relationship with ADFI and CCMM which will continue to receive subsidies.
National Education institution will keep organizing " trainings " to alert teachers against " cults " - which is in fact encouraging violations of fundamental Rights and freedom of convictions.
At a time when Occidental countries are removing the last remains of the Old World as far as blocking freedom of thought, it looks like France has decided to reinforce its position as a tail-ender.
Promoting a laicite without a sectarian stench
Nicolas Sarkozy, Ministre de l'Intérieur, has stated march 10th (AFP) : " One cannot accept that one, if only one, be afraid because of his religion. There will be a zero tolerance on this point...I would like to launch a positive attitude regarding laicite, casting aside any sectarian stench. "
very fine statement, indeed, which we would like being applied regarding
non mainstream spiritual minorities, relentlessly attacked in France.
In 1994, the Lyon Court had condemned J.T., a protestant minister (woman), to three months of jail, being forbidden to lay hands on and pray for people, as well as to a 10 000 Frs amend for " harming " a person she had helped. Her crime : she had cured that person, who then could not benefit anymore unemployment fees and free medical aid, because of being cured. A very homelike absurd situation.
But the story does not end at that point. She did expatriate towards England, and was extremely surprised when the local State did help her financially to carry out her charity and secretarial expenses. The reason being that the local police knows that, where religious groups act in the suburbs, delinquency and violence regress. An alternative then to " proximity police ". (In France, a so called proximity police has been set up to try a dialogue between the police and young people in " hot " quarters.)
Things are moving regarding vaccinal liberty
Boutin, a member of Parliament and former candidate to the presidence
of Republic, has proposed a new law to end up with the normative repression
wich has been prevailing in France. (It is only a proposal at this stage).
The text :
Miviludes - Orientation Council
On March 4th, Miviludes has made known the composition of its " Orientation Council ". This new Council, which will meet twice a year (and will therefore not be very influent) is composed of long-term anti-cults militants (15 out of 30 members !).
find J.P. Morin, J.P.Brard, A. Gest, N. About, E. Dolige, D. Groscolas,
JJ Hyest, M. Monroy, G. Fenech , whose names punctuate the sad story
of " The black list ".
In addition, we find in the composition of this council :
Nathan (from the psychiatric Bobigny institution, in charge of " re-educating
" former religious members).
This Council is fairly unbalanced, almost up to a caricature, and it is most likely that it will not recommend anything else than a generalized Witch Hunt, casting aside Human Rights.
Cap will continue to expose, without flinching, any violations of freedom of speech, freedom of conviction and freedom of religion.