Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive

Bonn Accuses America Of Swallowing Scientologists' Propaganda Line

The Times, Tuesday, 28 January 1997, p13

 HELMUT KOHL'S coalition partner last night accused the American Government
of falling victim to subversive cults, as Washington prepared to publish a
human rights report critical of German discrimination against

 Bernd Protzner, general secretary of the Christian Social Union, urged
Klaus Kinkel, the German Foreign Minister, to intervene over a growing
controversy which threatens to sour otherwise flawless relations between
the two countries.

 The State Department is expected to publish its annual survey of global
human rights tomorrow, chastising the Bonn Government for what is described
as a "campaign of harassment and intimidation" against the Church of

 Herr Protzner said the report proved the power of the group to influence
public opinion.  "Influential circles in the State Department have obviously
fallen for Scientology's hate campaign against Germany and have let
themselves be used by the sect," he said.

 The dispute between Bonn and Washington, which has gained prominence since
Hollywood launched a broadside against Herr Kohl, the German Chancellor, and
his administration earlier this month, was clearly fuelled last night by the
prospect of an official condemnation by America.

 But the issue has been made more sensitive by the high-profile involvement
of Scientologists, such as actors Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and John
Travolta, and by inflammatory charges from the group and Hollywood that
Germany's treatment of the Church is reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of
the Jews.

 American officials said they had been obliged to support freedom of religion
and the Church because German actions, including a boycott of Cruise films
and the restriction of performances by Chick Corea, the jazz pianist, were
seen to have infringed on the rights of American citizens.

 The report, which comes after diplomatic attempts by Washington to press
the German Government on the issue, once again appeared to confirm the power
that Tinseltown exerts over President Clinton's Administration.

 There was no sense yesterday that Germany's unique sensitivity to the
dangers of extremism would be swayed by the report.  Its reaction is almost
certainly to be equivalent to that from Bonn after an open letter to Herr
Kohl from Hollywood titans published in several newspapers this month.  The
Christian Democratic Union, of which Herr Kohl is chairman, has been the
most energetic in combating Scientology.  And the youth wing of the party
organised a boycott of the Cruise film, Mission Impossible.

 The 34 signatories to the letter, including Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn,
Gore Vidal and Oliver Stone, said they were not Scientologists but implored
Herr Kohl to bring to an end a "shameful pattern of organised persecution"
which was a "disgrace" to the German nation.  Last week, the Church of
Scientology filed an application with the European Commission of Human
Rights, accusing the German Government of discriminating aganist members.

 Scientology's site on the Internet regularly attacks "systematic
discrimination" against German members, who are said to be routinely
dismissed from jobs, schools and political parties and blacklisted,
boycotted and villified.

 The State Department has accused the Scientologists of historical amnesia
in its comparisons to anti-Semitic-style persecutions.  "We have criticised
the Germans on this but we are not going to support the Scientologists'
terror tactics against the German Government," Nick Burns, the department's
spokesman, said.

Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive