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SCHEITERN: Scientologists want to friend schoolkids on Facebook

German gov says Nein as 'church' tries to reach children with social media

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The Office for the Protection of the Constitution in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) believes Scientology is recruiting children through Facebook and other social networks.

The domestic intelligence agency is ramping up its surveillance on the controversial group.

Scientology has posted several videos titled "Jugend für Menschenrechte" (Youth for human rights) and "Sag nein zu Drogen – sag ja zum Leben" (Say no to drugs, say yes to life) on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other networks including the immensely popular SchülerVZ, which exclusively targets schoolkids. Viewers are encouraged to sign up for Scientology online groups.

The "church" has already recruited over 600 Scientologists in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most densely populated German federal state, and is planning to build a new church in the state capital of Düsseldorf.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has had the church under surveillance since 1997. In March 2003, Scientology even went to court seeking to stop further surveillance, butt dropped its legal battle later, saying it was 'time to reflect on the whole purpose of this battle of legal material and reach a sensible solution.'

A couple of years ago Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, who believed that the Church maintains ambitions against the democratic basic order, encouraged state leaders across the country to ban the group, but didn't get enough support. However, Germany did ban the makers of a Tom Cruise movie from filming at military sites in the country because the actor "publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult". ®

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