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NEWS AND INVESTIGATIONS
French News - April 2003
Secret funds ( $$$$$$ ! )
New facts came to light regarding the financing of the two main anti-cult french associations. " Le Point " magazine had already mentionned in 2001 a 500 000 fr contribution gotten by Alain Viven 's wife directly from the Prime Minister for buying new quarters for CCMM (Center Against Mental Manipulations). Shortly after, it came out that UNADFI, the other major anti-cult french association, had also received a special 2 900 000 Frs (450 000 US $) subsidy, in addition to its regular 2 300 000 Frs received from the government. They get also additional financial sources coming from local public administrations.
Per a few congressmen questionned on that issue, it is more than likely that both acquisitions of quarters (450000 US $ for UNADFI and 700 000 US $ for CCMM) would have come from secret governmental funds which have also been the focus of recent controverses. This demonstrates how much those front groups, which do claim working closely with the french secret police, would be part of a governmental strategy in denying existence and freedom to new religious movements. (This situation is applicable to - at least - the 2000-2001period)
April 10th to 12th, Cesnur (Center for Sociological studies on new religions
leaded by Massimo Introvigne) focused on democracy and religion in Eastern
Europe countries, with a special mention to the situation in France,
where Regis Dericquebourg made a summary of the evolution of the context
since the change of government in May 2002.
The Parisian police will run a special team dedicated to racist acts. It can be reminded here that the same laws protect against racist acts and anti-religious acts.
A new president for CCMM
major finance trouble, and the consecutive retirement of the former
" team " - a very explosive team indeed -, Daniel Groscolas has been
appointed as a new president for CCMM (Center Against Mental Manipulations).
Daniel Groscolas had been " Mister Cults " for the whole of National
Education during the last years, period during which major violations
of neutrality regarding religious issues have been initiated within
the scholar system.
Paris : " First convention on religious discriminations in France "
Organized by the Council of African Christian communities in Europe, this convention was presided by sociologist Emile POULAT and Pastor Dominique Kounkou. Punctuated by a Gospel artist, it was an opportunity for many French protestant Ministers to testimony regarding obvious discriminations they have endured in the normal activities of theirs communities. In the afternoon, workshops enabled individuals from many confessions, not only christian ones, to testimony and share their experiences. Several lawyers where present, who could advise regarding the voiced situations.
It is to be mentioned that a representative of the " Bureau des cultes ", the official government agency delivering the religious status to communities was present, which demonstrated a positive evolution in the administration.
" Weird Laicite "
its daily news, " Le Monde " reports that Antoine Lubrina, member of
the Federation for Free Thought, demanded that the Fleury-Merogis prison
be barred to a catholic religious order, the " Sœurs de la misericorde
", under the guise of " proselytism ".
Orldwide Congress on religious freedom
The "Conscience et liberté"(1) magazine (Official communication support of the International association for the Defense of Religious Freedom) has just published the results of the fifth congress that was held in Manilla in June 2002.
interest, an article by Maurice Verfaillie regarding the "Historico-social
factors influencing changes in the perception of religious pluralism
in France ", an article by Professor Jean Duffar on religious freedom
and european laws in 2000, covering more specifically the project of
a Chart of Fundamental rights of European Union. We call to attention
as well an article by Jeremi Gunn from Atlanta University, called "
Freedom of religion and State security ".
Private Brussels University has published a very interesting book, under Alain Dierkens and Anne Morelli's direction, titled " Cults " and " heresies " from antiquity to nowdays, covering the controversy that has been existing at all times between established religions and new cults. A chapter is devoted to the evolution and various meanings of the word " cults ". In a brillant synthesis, sociologist Massimo Introvigne summarizes the French current situation regarding the anti-cult fight, which is an exception, even in Europe. A history of religious minorities help understanding the current problems faced by those groups.
The book (written in french) can be ordered on the web site of the editions of Free university of Brussels : www.editions-universite-bruxelles.be
A proposal for a law on muslim veil
Francois Baroin, deputy president of the UMP group at National Assembly (liberal right) has proposed a new law mainly focused on defending society against " muslim communautarism ", which includes forbidding the muslim veil inside school, which should remain " a Republican sanctuary".
This proposal, largely explained by its author in national weekly magazine Le Figaro of May 24th, is multi-facets as it proposes a so called " spiritual gift " that would benefit tax exonerations. (The purpose being to incite muslim people to directly support their religious community, instead of depending on foreign muslim governements.)
The text does not mention new religious movements. At last, it proposes the creation of a consultative council of religions.
The Ligue de l'Enseignement, a federation of associations related to teaching, stated on June 22nd that they consider a new law regarding wearing religious signs would not be a good move as a law " would be either useless, either unapplicable. "
Brussels launches a thrive against discrimination in Europe
On june 16th 2003, the European Director of Employment and Business, Anna Diamantopoulou, launched a five years campaign against discrimination in work, including by reason of religion or beliefs. This follows the vote of new european laws which will have to be integrated within national laws before end of 2003.
" Law are not enough ", she mentioned, " attitudes and behaviors must change also ".
This confirms that european institutions may be an ally in bringing forth a truly pluralist society regarding beliefs and religions.
Which religious politics in Europe and Mediterranea ?
This international congress was held from may 22nd to 24th in Aix-en Provence (France), organized by the Religious Law and History Institute and the Observatory of Religious Facts based in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.
Sponsored by high officials from the European Council and United Nations, there met specialists and personalities in charge of religious issues in european and mediterranean countries.
During the debates, one could hear many viewpoints in disagreement with measures taken by the last french governments, especially during speeches by Bruno Etienne, president of the Observatory of Religious Facts.