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Scientologists fight back against Anonymous

But fails to get injunction

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Protests by internet group Anonymous against the Church of Scientology went ahead as planned last weekend, after the church failed in two attempts to get an injunction.

On Thursday Circuit Judge Douglas Baird turned down the second of two requests to prevent protesters approaching within 500ft (150m) of church buildings on March 15, the birthday of church founder L. Ron Hubbard. The church used laws more commonly applied in cases of domestic abuse. Its petition failed because it was unable to establish a credible list of named individuals associated with earlier protests, or demonstrate that anybody it complained of posed a threat.

In the event, protests by members of Anonymous on Saturday passed off peacefully. Anonymous also protested outside Scientology offices worldwide in February. Protest tactics have also included denial of service attacks on CoS websites.

The protests were sparked by the furore over Church of Scientology attempts to force websites to remove a video clip of Tom Cruise speaking about his beliefs, which leaked out in January. But Anonymous gripes run deeper, centering on the Church's alleged financial exploitation of members as well as its history of hostile actions against critics.

Members of Anonymous wear Guy Fawkes masks, as worn the character V from V for Vendetta, in part to prevent their identification and reprisals from the Church of Scientology.

The Church of Scientology hit back in the propaganda war late last week with a video accusing the Anonymous group of "religious hate crimes and terrorism directed against the Church of Scientology". It alleges Anonymous is responsible for phoning in bomb threats against Scientology centres. Anonymous denies responsibility for these hoaxes.

In the video the church concedes that denial of service attacks against its websites left its information sites unavailable. Previous statements suggested that a rush of genuine visitors to its sites in the wake of the Tom Cruise video controversy was responsible for knocking them over. ®

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