The city of Hamburg said this week it would suspend the work of its 17-year-old Scientology task force, one of the most vociferous critics of the secretive organization. Leader Ursula Caberta has successfully defended herself in numerous cases brought by Scientologists. However, the city says it will continue to monitor the group.
From Berlin, Germany, to Clearwater, Florida, there are few people more disliked by the Church of Scientology than Ursula Caberta. For 17 years, Caberta has fought against Scientology in Germany and provided assistance to members who wanted to leave the highly secretive group. As the head of a special city task force in Hamburg assigned to monitor Scientology and its activities and to help its victims, she is one of the shadowy group’s most prominent critics. This week, her office itself fell victim to savings measures in the northern German port city.
A spokesperson for the Hamburg government said that the office, created in 1992 and known around the world, would be closed on August 31 and that Caberta would be transferred to the city’s Interior Ministry, where she would still remain the city’s point person on Scientology, which has a church in the city.
In the future, however, counselling of victims of Scientology will be taken over by the local branch of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. In an interview with the daily Berliner Zeitung published on Tuesday, Hamburg Interior Ministry spokesman Thomas Butter said the closure of the working group would save the city an estimated ‚¬140,000 ($180,000) annually.
Germany has long fought against the Scientologists as they sought to gain a foothold in the country. The organization is monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution on both the federal and state level. The agency generally observes extremist political groups, potentially dangerous Islamist fundamentalists and religious cults and sects.
It remains unclear what will happen with the unit’s comprehensive archive, which also includes many secret Scientology documents, according to the newspaper.
Scientology hate crimes
In August, 2000, members of the Church of Scientology accosted Ursula Caberta upon her arrival at the Tampa, Florida airport:
It is for these reasons that the publishers of Apologetics Index and Religion News Blog consider the Church of Scientology to be a hate group.