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linkback to wwp:The Scientology organization is experiencing more turbulence than ever - not as "the world's fastest-growing religion", but as the West's most discussed cult. Monday June 22, we could read in Dagbladet that David Miscavige, the leader of the organization, has used physical violence against other scientologists on repeated occasions. The organization's former spokesperson Mike Rinder told the St Petersburg Times that the reasons for the violence could [often] be completely ordinary, everyday situations.
Scientology is in the spotlight in Europe too. In Germany Scientology has been under government surveillance since the late 90's, by the same authority that tracks neo-nazis and militant islamists. In France the organization is currently on trial for corruption and fraud.
Here in Norway, Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby alias Hank von Helvete has rekindled the Scientology debate by starting what he calls a "crusade" against psychiatry. Together with his scientologist manager Trygve Haug he fronts the program of the controversial Scientology front Citizen's Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). The Scientology organization's express goal is a "global eradication of psychiatry", and in his new-year's eve speech 2007, Miscavige made use of a great many bombing and explosion metaphors, underscored with images of grenades and exploding buildings. CCHR - and now Hank - play a central role in this project. Hank doesn't acknowledge this, but it's a tad remarkable that he drives around in a CCHR vehicle (Dagbladet 13/06/09) and holds speeches at CCHR's controversial exhibition "Psychiatry: Help or industry of death?" (ABC Nyheter 7/5/09)
It's not always easy to be a critic of the western world's most critic-hostile cult. Opponents of the 'church' are branded as 'SPs' - 'suppressive persons'. As L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology organization, wrote in 1967: "ENEMY - SP Order. Fair Game. May be derived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without dicipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed. " Here he instructs other Scientologists to destroy the critics, they're simply 'fair game'. Hubbard later ordered the Scientology organization to stop using the term 'fair game', as this caused bad PR for the organization.
The "fair game" policy is still in force today, even in Norway, in particular in the form of harassment and smear campaigns. In 1980 Bjørn Myrseth, adviser at the Consumer Ombudsman [authority] was threatened by two of the 'churches' representatives. The man who'd informed the Consumer Ombudsman and police was [can't think of a verb..] married to an entire folder of information intended to discredit him. During the 80's a whole series of articles turned up in the Oslo press about former members who felt harassed and persecuted. In 1988 for instance, the German Scientologists Max Heiderer from the Scientology headquarters in Copenhagen threatened to shoot Beathe Olsen, since she owed the 'church' course fees. In the 1990's the church attempted to silence people who exposed them on the internet. The perhaps most well-known of these is Andreas Heldal-Lund, the man behind the website Operation Clambake. Scientologists have sent private investigators after him for years, intending to 'dig up dirt' they can use in their smear campaigns.
How can someone protest such an organization without becoming 'fair game'? The answer is anonymity.
In January 2008 war was declared on Scientology on the Internet. "Anonymous" is a loosely-connected global grass-roots movement of activists, whose goal is to expose and publicize the abuses of the Scientology organization. The planning generally takes place in online forums or chat rooms; there's no leadership or organizational hierarchy. The men and women who participate rarely know each-other's real names, and are united only in outrage against the frauds and abuses of the Scientology organization.
The Scientologists have been fairly helpless in their confrontation with a global, anonymous and leader-less phenomenon such as Anonymous. Where it was once named critics in the line of fire, there's now a faceless mass. The Scientologists therefore spend much time and effort towards revealing the protesters. For instance the American Gregg Housch ended up in court, alone by himself , because his name was on a demonstration permit form. Other protesters receive legal threats, often empty and preferably addressed to the parents. The intent is obviously to intimidate and discourage. It's thus with good reason we find it necessary to demonstrate anonymously - and write anonymous editorials.
In Norway the wearing of masks during demonstrations is banned. The aim of the law is to prevent violence and rioting. But is it so that all masked demonstrators wish to keep their identity secret from the authorities and police or have plans to start trouble? No. Occasionally it's because one wishes to keep one's identity secret from the organization or regime being demonstrated against, in order to protect oneself, family and friends.
Anonymous has held peaceful demonstrations all over the world. A policeman in London had the following to say to the newspaper Times: "They're the nicest demonstrators I've had the honor of keeping order among". But here in Norway the mask ban has thrown a wrench in our machinery. The police have denied our requests to protest anonymously. We've therefore mostly handed out flyers, since this falls under different legislation than demonstrating. Anonymous is also in contact with several ex-scientologists who say they don't dare participate in demonstrations due to the mask ban.
Anonymous demonstrators have it easier in Sweden, where masks are legal at peaceful demonstrations. The same is the case in England and Wales, where masks are permitted unless the police decide to ban it in specific cases.
Shouldn't it be possible to demonstrate against an organization that does everything to silence and disarm its critics? Shouldn't a group that's shown itself able to hold peaceful demonstrations in over 30 countries - over a period of a year and a half - be able to apply for an exemption from the mask ban?
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