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Responding to U.S. rights report, Germany denounces Scientology

January 28, 1997 GMT

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Germany rejected U.S. criticism of its treatment of Scientologists, saying Tuesday it still considers church members a threat to the nation.

The U.S. State Department’s annual report on human rights around the world, due this week, says Germany discriminates against Scientologists.

The German government says the church _ which has 30,000 members in Germany _ is largely a money-making organization with some organized crime traits that seeks world domination and threatens democracy. Scientologists deny the claims.

Last month, Germany announced it would keep people linked to the group out of public jobs such as counseling and teaching. The ruling Christian Democratic Union has also ousted party members for connections to Scientology.

Peter Hausmann, spokesman for Chancellor Helmut Kohl, responded to the State Department report by pointing out that Kohl and governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed last December that Scientology was a threat.

Kohl and the states agreed that ``the activities and practices of Scientology are questionable, and that its efforts to expand and its quest for domination will be combated with all legal means,″ Hausmann said Tuesday.

Nicholas Burns, the State Department spokesman, told reporters in Washington on Monday that Germany has discriminated against Scientologists.

But he said it is wrong to compare Germany’s treatment of Scientologists with the Nazis’ persecution of Jews in the late 1930s, as the church and some American celebrities have done.

``It is an outrageous historical claim,″ Burns said. ``There is no pattern of discrimination against the Scientologists that compares even remotely to what happened to the Jews and to others during the Nazi era.″