European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom


1 ... « 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 » ... 35

Article by Camillo Maffia - Agenzia Radicale. Translation from italian by EIFRF.

Saluzzo or the 120 days of Sodom
Source in italian

A recent episode of the TV show “Mystery” makes us think over the possible forms of looting taking place on the background of the controversial issue of “Satanic cults” and, more generally, of “religious cults”. 
I already covered the Saluzzo case, a sad story of suicides committed by teenagers, seemingly related in some way (but this will have to be ascertained through judicial proceedings) with a professor who allegedly entertained sentimental relationships with some of his female students.
In the sensationalistic attempt to fit this incident in, at all costs, to some mysterious “Satanic cults”, just because of the fact that some students were passionate readers of Anton La Vey, founder, in 1966, of the legally established Church of Satan of San Francisco, “Mystery”, attempts to shows based on no actual information the e-traits of one of the girls who committed suicide, and then turns to a medium that tries to get in touch with the soul of the deceased girl.
The show is guaranteed, and the suffering of the relatives – forced to swallow these forms of speculation on the suicide of their young daughter, sister or cousin – is a price that one must be ready to pay, because the shameful show offered by the mass media speculation on the delicate issue of “cults”, must go on, and, often, at the expense of innocent people.
After the grounded controversies on the usefulness and even the constitutionality of the Anti-Cult Squad of the State Police, Senator Alberti Casellati tabled, as first signatory, a parliamentary interrogation in which she proposes the creation of an Italian MIVILUDES (a controversial French governmental body accused by several NGOs of violations of fundamental human rights, promoter of a politics that cost France three convictions by the Court of Strasbourg), aimed at even stricter control on so called “cultic deviances”.
As of today, it is not yet clear what the “sectarian deviances” are they are talking about: not a single judiciary proceedings has ever lead, in the history of Republic, to the confirmation of the existence of one of the “psycho-cults” so imaginatively represented by the information at large. There have been, on the contrary, conspicuous compensations, like that granted to Marco Dimitri (Children of Satan) for the 400 days of illegal imprisonment he suffered, or judgments explicitly demolishing the “psycho-cult” theory, like in the case of Arkeon, because these cases of bad justice not only have a human cost, but also a financial one, and they add up to the millions of backlogged legal proceedings that should be extinguished with an amnesty which cannot be delayed any longer.
But instead of thinking of extinguishing the offenses to solve the emergency that exists in the Italian prisons, new ones are being created, launching anew the “crime of mental manipulation”; and concurrently with somebody advocating such restrictive measures against cults in Italy, in Paris, Rudy Salles, collaborator of George Fenech, member of FECRIS, even seems to be aspiring to the creation of a European MIVILUDES, in the report he submitted to the Council of Europe, already rebutted in different areas, and related to the protection of minors from sectarian deviances.
FECRIS, to which also the main anti-cult groups in Italy belongs, is the French association that arouses international concern, due to the danger it would represent to the rights of religious minorities in trying to establish a boundary line between religion and “cult”, with the purpose to fight the latter, and supporting the successful aim, also pursued by our domestic anti-cultists, to get passed in France an updated version of the crime of plagio, created by the Fascist regime to persecute the dissidents, never applied up to the Braibanti case and that, after the solitary fight of Marco Pannella and the protests of intellectuals such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Alberto Moravia, Mauro Mellini and Elsa Morante, was abolished by the Constitutional Court in 1981, due to its manifest unconstitutionality.
The French pattern has been exported to Belgium, where, among the “dangerous cults” we also find the Sant’Egidio Community: a sort of religious McCarthyism where one can easily end up, therefore, in the “black list” of the “cultic groups”, that some would like to also apply in our country, without realizing that a greater secularism is not achieved through the stigmatization of religious groups, but through an activity of reform that first of all provides an adequate legislative framework, avoiding false secularisms and equalizing the rights and duties of religious, spiritual, non-believers or atheist groups.
The human cost of anti-cult politics has already been raised at both OSCE/ODIHR and in places where religious minorities, like Damanhur, tells stories of deep sufferings caused by blitz and raids that, since 1991, have never found this community guilty of any possession of drugs, weapons or other illegal materials, and of legal proceeding that were concluded with the acquittal of the defendants.
Even more striking levels have been reached with the Ananda Assisi case, whose members have been acquitted of the charges of enslavement, circumvention of incapable people, fraud and usury, after four years of media campaigns, the seizure of 20,000 euros and the arrest of 11 members. Without taking into account that the “fight against cults” has already brought with it actual martyrs, unfortunately, as demonstrated by the dramatic story of Don Giorgio Govoni, acquitted after 15 years from the charge of alleged Satanic practices, but deceased before seeing his name rehabilitated.
But if the human cost is clear, and should suggest to the anti-cultist companions a change of course rather than a reinforcement of their attitude, the financial cost, instead, still has to be quantified, for the fact that, despite the relevant cutbacks suffered by the police forces and three parliamentary interrogations, no government has yet told us how much does it cost and what’s the usefulness  of an anti-cult squad in a country where the cases related to “cults” indeed ended up in serious incidents of unfair justice which not only should be considered on the basis on the sufferings of the involved people, but also as a wrong answer to the fair request of safeguarding the individual against possible fraud, abuse or to facilitate the reintroduction in society of an individual after a long experience of isolation in a religious community.
Moreover, the democratic implications of the materials published by ( should be kept in consideration. This is a series of intercepted dispatches put on the net concerning a worrying intrigue between police forces and private citizens, allegedly aimed to trigger on the one hand, “anti-cult campaigns” and on the other to shut up any dissident, like it appears scrolling the worrying “behind the scene” reconstruction of the Di Marzio case.
This scholar was accused of being the “guru” of the “psycho-cult” Arkeon, because on her web site she had opened a space (then closed down by the Digos police) in which, being a supporter of an approach based on dialogue, she was enabling a confrontation between members and former members of the Arkeon community, this being after she had publicly reached the conclusion herself that Arkeon did not have the characteristics of a cultic group. The complaint lodged against this scholar was eventually shelved and the court demonstrated that Arkeon was not a psycho-cult.
Is what exposed by Libero Credo true? We cannot say, but certainly we can quantify the costs of the various judiciary operations that were prompted using the “cult” theorem and systematically culminated in the acquittal of the innocent individuals after long ordeals:  thirty years of ungrounded cases and the continued suffering by the victims of an approach that, on balance, has proven detrimental, should be sufficient not only to take a step back with regards the request to open a new MIVILUDES in Italy, but also to reconsider the course of action and the existence of the Anti-Cults Squad itself.
In an illiberal view, but not necessarily an illiberal one, which takes no account of the failures of a security approach on problems of social nature, it would be understandable that a police squad takes care of the abuses taking place in the religious sphere, once having clarified the costs in proportion to the results: but considering that in this area the greater concern is aroused by the scandal of pedophile priests in the Vatican, upon which the specific requirements of the United Nations hang, and considering also that the failure of passing over to justice the offending priests may still result in new sexual harassments of minors, it appears difficult to justify a law enforcement department that instead only deals with “cults”, to punish crime, without stepping on the feet of the great organized religions. 
Moreover, the Anti-Cults Squad has as its main contact a Catholic priest, don Aldo Buonaiuto, that Radicals should remember as one of the first to assail Beppe Englaro, under the banner of a concept of secular state that poorly suits to the referent of a police department in a democratic country. Bonaiuto himself, additionally, was under investigation in 2003 for sexual violence allegedly committed on a five years old child, case shelved in 2004;  at that time Bonaiuto was surrounded by a sane sense of civil rights protection that later on, however, decided not to note what Buonaiuto, in his capacity of consultant on the so called “cults cases”, was declaring to the press about the existence of children sacrificed in the name of Satan that never existed even in the preliminary investigation.
The conferences on “cults” with Buonaiuto as a protagonist, finally, take place in the Ateneo Regina Apostulorom of the Legionaries of Christ, the movement founded by Father Maciel that sparked one of the most serious cases of child abuse that ever occurred in the religious sphere. It’s therefore obvious that to “fight the cultic deviances”, performed at the expense of the secular State itself, indicates per se, a possible element at the basis of the outcome of such an action.
Don Aldo Buonaiuto, on the Velino of last 8th February, harshly criticized the UN Committee on the Rights of Child concerning the Holy See, not to mention perhaps that child victims of abuse by Catholic priests should be protected just as the child victims of abuse of different religious and spiritual movements, if such abuses were substantiated.
This is said reiterating that if one would ever hypothetically decide to draw a line of demarcation that sees the Catholic Church ending up, in virtue of this, along with Scientology or Sant’Egidio Community on a list of “dangerous cults”, this would occur exclusively at the expense of individual pastors who have never practiced sexual harassments, without causing, by the way, much of a benefit to the victims of abuses.
Buonaiuto is also one of the promoters of the “March for Life against Abortion”. In those days we learnt about the case of Valentina Magnanti, 28 years old, suffering from a serious genetic disease and thus forced to terminate her pregnancy in the fifth month, who was abandoned in a hospital bath to give birth to a dead fetus, because of too many objecting medical doctors, a problem that caused Italy to be condemned by the European Union for having violated the law on abortion and women’s rights. The protagonist of this avoidable tragedy said: “While I was there, overwhelmed with grief, anti-abortion activists entered with gospels in hand and with menacing voices”.
Behold, I believe that the companions of the anti-cultists, should step back and reflect on this. We share the fact that any form of religious fundamentalism is done at the expense of the fundamental rights of the person, regardless of the group pursuing it. One wonders then, how is it possible to reconcile the protection from the so-called “cults” (illiberal and fundamentalist religious movements, closed to the outside world) with the endorsement of forms of clerical extremism, both incompatible with the rule of law to lead Italy in a condition of flagrancy of crime.
In any case, if the State police turns to a priest of any denomination to assess the level of danger of members of other religious or spiritual groups, this cannot happen at the expense of secularism and religious equality. 
With the right focus on child protection, the risk is yet that of proceeding to a further erosion of the rule of the law, of taking a further step in the direction of the prevalence of the reason of State that, by its nature, has the outcome of unconditioned arbitrariness of itself: the orgy of power.
The “small Saluzzo” already shaken by questionable manipulations, would become authentic “Pasolini’s Salò” where the anal-sadistic impulse of the regime, chanting fascist nostalgia for the penal code, would end up giving vent on the weak ones that would be, overnight, defined “cult” and thus dead in the eyes of the world, stripped, subjected to raids, penal proceedings, media pillory, punished for every religious act.
The small religious community would forcedly become a nest in which the cuckoo would settle so as to establish his personal asylum where every detail has to be controlled, where any form of mental or spiritual diversity constitutes a deviance, where initiative becomes madness, where the inner revolt becomes “mental manipulation”.
The inadequacy of the French model was already made clear by the terrible story of Richard Grey, separated from his son because of his belonging to the Jewish Orthodox faith, covered by the media in April last year. 
No less serious is the case of the doctor tackled by an anti-cult association because he was a member of a Hindu group, and thus, of a “dangerous cult”, whose smear campaign found credit in institutions, so minded because indeed influenced by a model which is very dangerous to import, and who inevitably adopted the violence of such accusations, generating in the person such a suffering that lead him to commit an avoidable suicide.
But we could also mention the emblematic case, that occurred in 2003, of parents under investigation because they were targeted as members of a “cult”, were then forced to defend themselves to avoid their young daughters to be taken away from them, all while the eldest son was in hospital suffering from leukemia. They were eventually acquitted but not until after the child was already dead.
In Italy, though fortunately institutional measures comparable to those in France have not yet been adopted, we have already witnessed serious events, such as the libelous letters mailed to the school attended by the children of Vito Moccia, unfairly portrayed as the “guru” of the Arkeon “cult”, or the Osho Campus raid in 2007, affecting five defendants, acquitted after the torment of Rignano Flaminio. One can go back to the abduction, for purposes of deprogramming, of Scientologist Alessandra Pesce, this was raised in Parliament by Mauro Mellini in ’88, up to the recent incident of the pregnant girl accused of being a member of the Satanic cult  “Angels of Sodom” in 2002, and then acquitted after suffering during pregnancy.
The danger here is to go from non-existent “Angels of Sodom”, to the all-too-realistic “Days of Sodom”, because cases of ill-justice are not, when summed up, simple path errors, but alarm bells that should induce the anti-cult associations to reflect, in our view, saving for themselves the need of secularism and the need to protect the victims of abuse or violence, but without giving in to those justicialist and illiberal temptations that often corrupt the best intentions. 
Otherwise, with the end of the Era of Mania in the first fifteen years (’83 – ’89), when the work of the first anti-cult groups – ARIS and GRIS – made us witness cases like that of Pesce and Dimitri at the beginning of their fight for the reintroduction of the crime of plagio and the dissemination of the first waves of moral panic on the subject; and concluding with the next Era (’97-2013), in which a police department was born under a strong “smell” of unconstitutionality and certainly not secular, as it is  coordinated by a Catholic priest, while dramatic and ungrounded events summed up in Courts, flanked by actual media pillories; the risk is now, 2014,  that of joining, with the hypothesis of an Italian MIVILUDES, the Era of Blood. 
One cannot ignore the assessment of the results of the SAS before one can even consider the idea of a special inter-ministerial government agency; neither we can continue to ignore the weight of the documents published by Libero Credo, especially with regards to the treatment reserved to critical voices. Would the ominous scenario of connivance and pressures outlined by this unspoken Wikileaks be proven realistic, it is legitimate to assume that, would one decide to create an inter-ministerial body or legislate on a crime of mental manipulation (plagio), it would also be up to us too, then, and to all the dissidents, the irregular ones, the stubborn ones, the “eternally opposed” ones, to wear the famous blue ribbon of Pier Paolo Pasolini, along with Scientologists, Damanhurians, Satanists, Jehovah’s Witnesses (the latter already accustomed to wear identification marks from the Holocaust era), and who would be left with the eternal question to shout before the martyrdom: “My God, why hast thou forsaken us”?

Rédigé par EIFRF le Tuesday, March 18th 2014 | Comments (0)

Saluzzo o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma - Agenzia Radicale

Source Agenzia Radicale

Un recente episodio della trasmissione “Mistero” ci fa riflettere sulle possibili forme di sciacallaggio che si consumano sullo sfondo della controversa questione delle “sette sataniche” e, più in generale, delle “sette religiose”. Ho già parlato del caso di Saluzzo, una triste vicenda di suicidi in età adolescenziale che sembra in qualche modo collegata (ma questo lo stabilirà l’iter giudiziario) con un professore che avrebbe intrecciato relazioni sentimentali con alcune studentesse.
Nel tentativo sensazionalistico d’infilare a tutti i costi in questa vicenda misteriose “sette sataniche”, in virtù del fatto che alcuni studenti sarebbero accaniti lettori di Anton La Vey, fondatore nel 1966 della legale e legalitaria Chiesa di Satana di San Francisco, la trasmissione “Mistero”, mostrando in modo insistente dati e tratti di una delle ragazze suicide, si rivolge a una sensitiva che cerca di entrare in contatto con l’anima della defunta.
Lo show è garantito, e la sofferenza dei familiari, costretti a ingurgitare queste forme di speculazione sul suicidio della loro giovane figlia, sorella o cugina, è un prezzo che bisogna essere pronti a pagare, perché lo spettacolo vergognoso che offre la irresponsabile speculazione mediatica sulla delicata questione delle “sette” deve continuare, e spesso ai danni degli innocenti.
Dopo le fondate polemiche sulla utilità e perfino sulla costituzionalità della Squadra Anti-sette della Polizia di Stato, la senatrice Alberti Casellati ha presentato come prima firmataria un’interrogazione parlamentare in cui propone la creazione di una MIVILUDES italiana (controverso organismo governativo francese accusato da varie ONG di violare i diritti umani fondamentali, fautore di una politica che è costata alla Francia tre condanne dalla Corte di Strasburgo), con lo scopo di un controllo ancora maggiore sulle cosiddette “derive settarie”.
Di quali “derive settarie” si parli a tutt’oggi non è chiaro: non un solo procedimento in tribunale ha mai portato, nella storia della Repubblica, a certificare l’esistenza di una delle “psico-sette” rappresentate con tanta fantasia dalla informazione generalista. Ci sono stati semmai cospicui risarcimenti, come quello di centomila euro elargito a Marco Dimitri (Bambini di Satana) per i quattrocento giorni di ingiusta detenzione, o sentenze che hanno smontato esplicitamente il teorema della “psico-setta”, come nel caso Arkeon, perché i casi di malagiustizia hanno un costo non solo umano, ma anche economico, e si vanno a sommare ai milioni di processi arretrati che si dovrebbe quanto prima estinguere con una irrimandabile amnistia.
Ma anziché pensare a come estinguere i reati per risolvere l’emergenza carceraria, se ne propongono di nuovi, rilanciando il “reato di manipolazione mentale”; e negli stessi giorni in cui qualcuno invoca queste leggi restrittive contro le sette in Italia, a Parigi Rudy Salles, collaboratore di Georges Fenech, esponente della FECRIS, sembra puntare addirittura a una MIVILUDES europea, presentando al Consiglio d’Europa un rapporto, già confutato in varie sedi, sulla protezione dei minori dalle derive settarie.
La FECRIS, a cui appartengono anche i principali gruppi anti-sette italiani, è l’associazione francese che ha suscitato preoccupazione a livello internazionale per via del pericolo che rappresenterebbe per i diritti delle minoranze religiose, stabilendo una linea di demarcazione arbitraria tra religione e “setta” con lo scopo di combattere queste ultime, e che ha sostenuto il riuscito obiettivo, perseguito anche dagli anti-sette nostrani, di far approvare in Francia una versione aggiornata del reato di plagio ideato dal regime fascista per perseguitare i dissidenti, mai applicato fino al caso Braibanti, che dopo la lotta solitaria di Marco Pannella e le proteste di intellettuali come Pier Paolo Pasolini, Alberto Moravia, Mauro Mellini ed Elsa Morante fu abolito nel 1981 per via della sua palese incostituzionalità dalla Corte Costituzionale.
Il modello francese è stato esportato in Belgio, dove tra le “sette pericolose” figura laComunità di Sant’Egidio: una sorta di maccartismo religioso in cui si finisce facilmente, dunque, nella “black list” dei “gruppi settari”, e che qualcuno vorrebbe applicare anche da noi, senza rendersi conto che una maggiore laicità non si ottiene attraverso la stigmatizzazione dei gruppi religiosi, ma mediante un’azione riformatrice che fornisca innanzitutto un quadro legislativo adeguato, evitando falsi laicismi, equiparando diritti e doveri dei gruppi religiosi, spirituali, non credenti e atei.(...)
 Per saperne di più

Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, March 12th 2014 | Comments (0)

Attorneys of Slavic Legal Center think Russian Supreme Court incorrect

Russian Pentecostal church shut down
by Viktoriia Belova -  Source HRWF Newsletter
Religiia i Pravo (11.03.2014) - The decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian federation of 5 March 2014 concerning the liquidation of the local religious organization of the "Harvest" Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals) because of a lack of a license for educational activity will be appealed to the European Court for Human Rights.
On 14 November 2013 a St. Petersburg city court issued a decision for the liquidation of the local religious organization of the "Harvest" Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals), that has approximately 200 parishioners. The court's decision was appealed to the Judicial College for Civil Cases of the Supreme Court of the Russian federation.
However on 5 March 2014 the Supreme Court rejected the appeal and the decision for the liquidation of the church was left without change. The interests of the church in the trial were represented by attorneys of the Slavic Legal Center Anatoly Pchelintsev and Sergei Chugunov.
The St. Petersburg city court and the Supreme Court of RF came to the conclusion that the church engages in educational activity without having a license to do so and it engages in activity of providing general educational services which is not provided for in the church's charter.
The leadership of the congregation and rights advocates do not agree with this decision and they maintain that the church does not conduct educational activity but merely provides premises for classes with children who are studying in the form of an "externate," or non-residential studies.
In the opinion of the lawyers, the fact that the church engages in educational activity without a license and activity that is not provided for by the church's charter was not established during the judicial sessions. The courts interpreted incorrectly the standards of the substantive law and gave their own interpretation of the concept of educational activity that does not correspond to the definition of the concept of education given in the law on education.
"I am deeply disappointed with this decision of the Supreme Court," stated the honorable Russian attorney, senior partner of the Slavic Legal Center Advocates' Bureau Anatoly Pchelintsev. "In my view, it is incorrect. The decision of the St. Petersburg court and subsequently of the Supreme Court is disproportionate to the action committed. There is a whole arsenal of measures of prosecutorial response that could have been used in this situation. For example, the prosecutor could have issued a warning or caution, or have opened an administrative proceeding, or have required the religious organization to restore the violated rights of victims if there were such. But for some unknown reasons, the prosecutor did not apply these measures but immediately requested the liquidation of the congregation that had not committed any serious violations of law.
"I am very sorry, but we will again have to appeal to the European Court for Human Rights. I am sure that the decision of that court will be in the church's favor, but at the same time we will be perceived in Europe as a primitive society that is incapable of getting simple questions straight. In any case, we will stand up for the church." (tr. by PDS, posted 11 March 2014) 

Rédigé par EIFRF le Wednesday, March 12th 2014 | Comments (0)

1 ... « 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 » ... 70