Udo Nagel, Senator of the Interior of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Opening of the conference

 

Mr. Griess, ladies and gentlemen,

 

I have the pleasure to welcome your here at the Chamber of Handicrafts in Hamburg for the Conference of the European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Sectarianism, better known as FECRIS.

 

I am glad that participants from so many countries have converged to our beautiful City of Hamburg to take part in this important event that is the annual conference organised by FECRIS, the first to be held in Germany.

 

The title of your conference is a programme in itself: "Cults and Esotericism: New Challenges for Civil Society in Europe".

 

We live in Germany and in Europe, in free consolidated democracies and pluralistic societies and we may not allow ourselves to sit back. Our democratic values, our fundamental rights and freedoms: accessibility to self improvement, protection of human dignity, equal rights, freedom of movement and opinion are questioned and even threatened by the aspirations of certain organisations.

 

Last Monday, I had the opportunity here in Hamburg, in my function of Senator of the Interior, to identify more closely with some of these aspirations and organisations, in the framework of the presentation of the annual report of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

The report was centred on extremist and anti-constitutional activities of organisations which partially or even totally refuse our constitution and human rights.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, very clearly at this stage, our democracy is both weakened and endangered by a multitude of cults and psycho-groups that act nationally and internationally. That is why it is so important that you, the experts, follow the developments in this field and inform and warn the public.

 

In this context, it was after all, more than appropriate that the scientology organisation should figure in the Report of the Hamburg Service of Protection of the Constitution – and not only there, but in several reports of the Services of Protection of the Constitution of the Bundesländer, where this organisation reappears under new trappings.

 

Your conference has two very important goals:

1. To inform the public about groups which endanger fundamental human rights and sap the very existence of our society.

2. To inform, exchange and compare with other experts on the latest developments – inform exchange and make contact among yourselves at conferences such as this.

 

Information of the public:

 

 

I know that many of you have had a painful experience yourselves, in your family or with friends, and know how difficult it is sometimes to detect early enough the true harmful, cynical objectives of these groups because of the skilful masks and disguise they use to hide their real goals.

 

Your task is important and indispensable for our liberal and democratic fundamental order – a fundamental order that is not arbitrary, but where clearly defined values matter. Ladies and gentlemen, dear participants at this conference, you are making an important contribution toward maintaining our democracies in Europe.

 

I am therefore, particularly pleased that the Working Group Scientology, under my public authority, is also represented at this conference. The head of our Working Group, Mrs. Ursula Caberta, whom I hardly need to introduce to you, will tell you about the “The Activity of the Authorities with Respect to the Psycho Market: Example Scientology” and thus add a further contribution to the understanding about the scientology organisation.

 

With regard to the second important goal of your conference, the wide range of subjects covered on the agenda is impressive and also shows that the endangering of our fundamental values by cults and similar groups do not stop at national borders, especially not in an ever more integrated Europe. Organisations - as scientology – exist internationally in networks, experts must cooperate at international level in the same manner, and should exchange and update their experience.

 

I am therefore glad that the European Federation, FECRIS, recommended by the international conference in Barcelona in 1993 and founded on 30 June 1994 in Paris, has managed to forge many links at international level. Thanks to the engagement of the members and fellow-combatants of FECRIS and their joint initiatives – thanks to you, ladies and gentlemen, it is now possible to detect dangers early enough, to inform the public and to protect our social values and standards.

 

I am also very pleased, as Senator of Interior of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, that our Working Group Scientology is an important part of this international network – a network that has dedicated itself to the protection and security of the public.

 

Once more, welcome to Hamburg, have a very successful conference and may you take back new information for your practical work in your home countries. I hope that you will also have the opportunity of taking a closer look at our wonderful city.