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Masked protest at "Cruise church"

Birmingham Mail, 17 March 2008

[photo caption: ANONYMOUS... three of the protestors outside the New Street HQ]

Masked protestors staged a demonstration in New Street outside the controversial Church of Scientology.

Campaigners from internet pressure group Anonymous held placards denouncing the church started in the 50s by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard as evil and claiming it had a hand in the death of some of its followers. Nearly 100 people wearing masks gathered outside the church's headquarters in Ethel Street just off New Street at around 1pm on Saturday.

A spokesman for the group, who did not wish to be named, said: "We protested to the church of Scientology because it's not run as a church- it's run more like a cult."

He said the group Anonymous had started its worldwide campaign against the church at the start of the year and intended to hold a demonstration in New Street once a month. "We're not against people who choose to be scientologists. We just don't like their actions," said the spokesman.

Since the start of the year Anonymous have posted two threatening messages on the video-sharing website YouTube.

The organisation claims to dislike the church's litigious nature, suppression of dissent and "campaigns of mis-information".

A spokesman also said its followers wore masks to protect them from retaliation from the church.

It adds: "Anonymous has therefore decided that your organisation should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind - for the laughs - we shall expel you from the Internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form"

During the demonstration the church, which found fame after film star Tom Cruise became a member, posted a security guard on the door of its headquarters.

No-one from the Birmingham branch was available for comment, but a statement was issued denouncing Anonymous as "cyber-terrorists hiding their identities behind masks and computer anonymity".

Scan of the article on Flickr

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