March 25, 1997

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Contact:Karin Pouw

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CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INVESTIGATES USE OF “ELECTRONIC STAR OF DAVID” BRAND IN GOVERNMENT RECORDS ON THEIR MEMBERS

      Attorneys for the Church of Scientology in Germany have launched a counter-attack aimed at legally upsetting a recent government decree which instituted an “electronic Star of David” for Scientologists. In a reciprocal for criticisms of Germany’s treatment of Scientologists by the U.S. State Department in its 1996 annual human rights report, German Federal Minister of Labor Bluem has decreed that employment offices mark all businesses owned by Scientologists with an “S.”

      The attorneys have served demands on the Federal Labor Office and the State Labor Office of Rhineland-Palatinate that they disclose whether they have marked the name of German Scientologist Claudia Engel with an “S” in their records. Ms. Engel’s attack on the decree is particularly significant because she has already won in the courts against a similarly illegal and discriminatory government decree.

      “Bluem’s directive is a reenactment of the Nazi order of June 14, 1938, to identify all businesses owned by Jews,” said Karin Pouw, public relations director of the Church of Scientology International. “We have documented more than 600 cases of discrimination against our members in Germany, and the government’s only response is further acts of oppression such as this one.”

      The attorneys are also seeking under Federal Data Protection Laws to force the government to reveal what other identifying information concerning Ms. Engel’s membership of the Church is recorded and to whom it has been distributed.

      Ms. Engel’s permits to run an au pair agency had to be reinstated by the courts in December 1995 following an arbitrary order from Bluem that Scientologists are barred from owning or operating employment agencies. The order was a reprisal for advertisements taken out by the Church of Scientology in major American newspapers drawing attention to discrimination against Scientologists in Germany.

     Following Bluem’s decree, the Federal Ministry of Labor directed the State Labor Office of Rhineland-Palatinate that “a permit [to run an employment agency] shall not be issued to members of the Church of Scientology....” As a result, in March 1995, the State Labor Office asked Ms. Engel to sign a form declaring that she was not a Scientologist and did not apply Scientology principles in her life. Ms. Engel refused to sign. The Labor Office then revoked her permits in May 1995.

      Pouw stated that Bluem’s order was “the mark of a totalitarian mindset. No allegations of impropriety or misconduct have ever been made against Ms. Engel or her agency. On the contrary, her work was greatly appreciated by her clients. Bluem’s motive is to bring about a boycott of businesses owned by Scientologists so as to deprive them of their livelihoods and force them to leave Germany.”

      According to experts in international human rights law, the use of “Anti-Scientology forms” such as the one Ms. Engel was asked to sign on penalty of losing her permits is an infringement of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, guaranteed by Article 18 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Germany has ratified.

      “In the 1930s, the Nazis tried to enforce Jewish emigration by forcing them out of trades and professions, and these human rights instruments were created to prevent a recurrence of such discrimination,” said Pouw.

      Ms. Engel sought recourse through the courts. In December 1995, the State Social Affairs Court of Rhineland-Palatinate reinstated her permits, ruling that the government had acted unconstitutionally.

      Scientology is a religion founded by writer and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, who is best known as the author of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which has sold more than 17 million copies. It is the fastest growing religion in the world and is expanding rapidly in Europe. It has earned commendations for its many highly effective programs that utilize the technology of L. Ron Hubbard to resolve drug abuse, illiteracy and crime.


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