Contribution of the European Raelian Movement – Working Session on Intolerance on October 6, 2008

President, members of the Commission,

I am the representative of the European Raelian Movement, an atheist religion based on non-violence, science and human rights. I would like to share with you our concerns about three European countries where our minority religion is suffering from situations of intolerance from the governments themselves.

These three governments are Belgium, France and Switzerland, and I am addressing them to put an end to intolerance so that together we can find a better way to promote tolerance towards philosophical minorities.
What can we do, for example, to bring an end to the intolerant habits of local and regional civil servants in Belgium?

Indeed, in 2008, we made written requests for the rental of public rooms to fifty municipalities in Belgium, none of which were accepted, not a single one. When we made exactly the same request, for the same period, but under a different name, it was astonishing to see that we obtained 40% acceptance. This is blatant intolerance on the part of the State. We have a record here that shows the fact. Why are we being discriminated against? Because we appear on the infamous black list of “cults” which is used by state officials to discriminate against the names on this list, although it has no legal value.

Indeed, the City of Hasselt, in this document that we place at your disposal, refused to grant us a stand in the street because we are Raelian. It is written and it is once again intolerance. The Walloon Region, through one of its provincial deputies, Mr. Trussart, had one of our participation in an annual public event cancelled even though we were officially registered in it. We have here the letter that motivates the refusal: we are on the list of cults. This is yet another example of blatant intolerance on the part of a senior state official. Last year, we also told you about the authorities of the municipality of Waterloo who boasted that they had banned us from their halls on the grounds that we are Raelians. The Belgian State must set an example of tolerance and not the opposite!

What can be done, in France this time, so that acts of intolerance by state officials also cease?

In a case of child custody, one of our members suffered serious acts of intolerance from French civil servants. Her membership in our religious minority was used by French justice officials to justify numerous insults, harassment, verbal abuse and humiliation of her children by health professionals and the police.

In Lyon, the deputy mayor, Mrs. Ancel, denied the Raelians the participation in a forum organized by the city simply because they are Raelians. This forum is called “dialogues in humanity”. We point out the incredible paradox where tolerance is officially promoted but the opposite is being put in practice. We place at your disposal the insulting and intolerant mail of this French civil servant. Feeling deeply insulted, the Raelians of Lyon have addressed other demands highlighting the same values, without citing the Raelian Movement as a reference. Surprisingly, the replies they received were the most courteous.

If this had happened with Jews, Christians or Muslims, would not the words and actions of this official be immediately condemned?

In Paris, during a demonstration in September against homophobia, the French police banned the Raelians from expressing themselves, while all other groups were free to do so without being disturbed. The Raelians were surrounded like pariahs and had to remain blocked. This is further proof that intolerance towards us is spread at the highest level of the French state.

Finally, what can be done in Switzerland to put an end to acts of intolerance towards us on the part of the Swiss institutions?

In Lausanne, during the Gay Pride where we show our support for the homosexual cause, a group of Raelians was also surrounded by the Swiss police and prevented from taking part in the public demonstration. We find here the same act of intolerance as in France.

In Neuchâtel, the police management refused, in defiance of the laws on tolerance, the right of Raelians to display posters on their commune through the advertising company. Our various appeals have been rejected, in particular by the Federal Court. The case is currently before the European Court of Human Rights.

More seriously, the Swiss authorities refused an application for a short-term residence permit in favour of Rael, founder and spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement, a French national who is therefore a full member of the European Union.

According to the authorities, the refusal is based on the risk of disturbing public order through his ideas, writing and presence as the spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement. A residence permit is generally refused to a French national only if he or she has a serious criminal record. The spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement has, of course, a perfectly clean criminal record and in twenty years of short stays in Switzerland, Rael has never disturbed the established order.

In conclusion, we observe that these three Governments justify their acts of intolerance on the basis of presumptions of guilt towards us. Moreover, they do nothing to temper the numerous acts of defamation committed by the media against us, which increases the incitement to hatred and intolerance among the population.

Should these three democratic states not be intransigent towards those who incite intolerance among their citizens, and even more so when it involves their own officials

Should they not refocus on democratic values, such as the presumption of innocence and equality for all, and put an immediate end to these acts of intolerance for instead strengthen education for tolerance towards minorities such as ours?