The Council Chamber in Brussels said on March 27 that two non-profit organizations along with eleven members of the scientology movement would have to answer before the criminal court in Brussels. According to federal prosecutors, Scientology is a criminal organization and its defendants are involved in scams, breaches of privacy laws, illegal medicine and extortion.
The Church of Scientology and many of its top-ranking members are accused of issuing fraudulent labour contracts in an attempt to recruit new members and volunteers. During an investigation launched in 2008, officials uncovered a “wealth of evidence” from various Scientology offices that prove that the organization has spied on its volunteers and extorted money from its members.
Scientology came under fire in France in 1997 and again in 2009 after being convicted of fraud for pressurizing members to pay large sums of money for questionable remedies. However, the conviction was upheld in 2012 in an appeals court in France.
The Church of Scientology is headquartered in Brussels and approximately 500 people in Belgium are members of the organization despite the faith having faced criticism and legal action in various parts of Europe. Germany for instance does not acknowledge Scientology as a faith even though many Germans believe religion is an individual’s personal choice and Scientology has been persecuted unnecessarily without reason.
According to Tablet Magazine, signatories of an open letter to then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl attempted a shift in dialogue in 1996, likening the German government’s treatment of Scientologists to Nazi barbarism.
“In the 1930s, it was the Jews. Today it is the Scientologists…” read the letter.
Photo Credit: Daniel Spiess