BRUSSELS – The Church of Scientology opened the doors to its all-new European quarter offices Wednesday, amid scepticism from local politicians.
The luxurious address at 91 rue de la Loi will be representing the controversial spiritual group in the European Commission and Parliament neighbourhood in an attempt at increasing its credibility.
The European Scientology Office of Public Affairs and Human Rights has been seen as an attempt to confuse visitors by attempting to appear like part of the conglomerate of European institutions in the area.
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In 1997, the Church of Scientology was written off by Belgian Parliament as “harmful and dangerous”.
“They are the charlatans of human rights,” Antoine Duquesne, former rapporteur during the investigation into sects in Belgium in 1997, told La Libre Belgique.
Politicians across all party lines criticised the organisation’s new offices.
“I think it’s dangerous and a sect – it’s not for nothing that they’ve encamped themselves in the European quarter, we know their lobbying capabilities,” said Mayor of Schaerbeek Bernard Clerfayt.
“The Church of Scientology is only after money and nobody is safe from what they are capable of,” said Mayor of Watermael-Boisfort Martine Payfa.
In a more moderate stance, Mayor of Saint Gilles Charles Picque accepted that everyone had the right to culturally and religiously, but had reservations regarding the church’s blurred line between spirituality and commerciality.
More than 5,000 Belgians are Church of Scientology members.