An open letter against discrimination in all its forms
UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Personal Representative of the Chair-in-Office of the OSCE on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and members of other religions
National Delegations at the OSCE
The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
The Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
Commission for Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities
Director General, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, European Commission
Human Rights Sub-commission – European Parliament
2007 is the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, an initiative of the European Commission to give momentum to the fight against discrimination in the European Union. While the 27 EU member states define and promote that discrimination in all its form is illegal, the capital of Europe and seat of the European Institutions, Brussels, is about to host an international gathering that is raising deep concerns.
The International Cultic Studies Association, ICSA, is organizing a conference on 29 June – 1 July 2007, with over 90 different speakers coming from various parts of the world, which will be held at the Fondation Universitaire (University Foundation) in Brussels.
ICSA has a reputation for advocating highly discriminatory practices against targeted religious groups.
This conference is clearly part of the “window dressing” operation of this American anti-religious hate-group, striving to get its discriminatory policy accepted by establishing an academic image for itself in Europe, using the stage of Brussels.
ICSA actually is the same group as the notorious American Family Foundation (AFF).
At the end of 2004, AFF announced it would change its name to ICSA - International Cultic Studies Association. With a new name, "ICSA", the same team was ready to continue their discriminatory anti-religious crusade, without having to justify previous revelations regarding AFF’s campaign against religions. As detailed below, AFF’s reputation had become so notorious and so tainted that it needed to change its name in order to function.
AFF was founded in 1979, claimed to be an "educational" and "theoretical" organization in a self declared war against "cults". As part of this fight, AFF’s associates known as "deprogrammers" ran one of the largest kidnapping-for-hire operations in American history.
In reality, the AFF was mainly dealing in what has been since then defined “mind-control”. Three of the leading AFF "experts" were Robert J. Lifton, Louis Jolyon "Jolly" West and Margaret Singer. Not only studying mind-control, they practiced coercive conditioning in horrific secret experiments related to the originally confidential intelligence related project "MK-Ultra", exposed as such in the 70s. MK-Ultra was the code name for a CIA mind-control research program, which involved the use of many types of drugs to manipulate people’s mental state and to alter brain function.
AFF/ICSA has also been active to promote anti-religious campaigns in Europe and it is in that context the now upcoming conference in Brussels should be seen.
An early European cooperator with AFF was the leading German “anti-cult” activist Friedrich Haack, representative for the German Lutheran church and well known for his continuous attacks on religious minorities. Haack published some of his works via Kurt Hirsch, the editor or PDI (Democratic Press Initiative). After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kurt Hirsch was exposed as an operative of the hated and feared East Germany intelligence agency "Stasi".
The list of speakers for the Brussels ICSA conference includes many names that have a track of cooperation with AFF, like Spanish psychiatrist Josep M. Jansa. Jansa is working for the Spanish anti-cult group AIS, a member-group of FECRIS, ICSA’s European brother organization.
Jansa was criticized in a court decision in Spain after having participated in a deprogramming attempt of Mr. Santiago Canals Coma, a member of a Catholic group:
“… what is not admissible … is that on the pretext of a clearly nonexistent mental disorder, a citizen of legal age has been deprived of liberty, solely because of his religious beliefs, and a legal justification has been attempted for this…"
Deprogramming violates Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states in pertinent part, that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or in private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance." In a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights about a deprogramming carried out by FECRIS member group AIS/Pro Juventud, the court clearly made this point.
Jansa is not the only one, within ICSA ranks, to be involved with deprogramming. Steven Hassan, listed in the ICSA’s Cultic Studies Review Editorial Board, has a quarter century history of violence, both directly and through his support of deprogrammers who kidnap and abduct individuals out of their religions. By demonizing their beliefs through false accusations, Hassan creates a climate of fear and divisiveness within families which he then uses to his financial advantage, charging exorbitant sums to kidnap and physically abuse his targets. Far from being an “expert” and a “help” to families, Hassan’s goal is to destroy religion for profit.
When Jansa will speak up on "cults" in Brussels, he will most certainly sound very academic with his theories, but a deeper look will reveal the clear-cut anti-religious agenda behind his and the other ICSA speakers academic jargon.
We respectfully urge that:
a. National governments and European Institutions undertake adequate measures to prevent discrimination in all its form, including religious discrimination;
b. Organizations belonging to the ICSA which support and perpetrate religious discrimination should be reviewed by the respective national governments and international organizations to ensure that they comply with human rights standards and that adequate measure are taken to eliminate religious discrimination.
Jean Claude Kolly, President Clims (centre de liaision et d'information concernant les minorités religieuses), Switzerland
Professor Bertil Persson
Scandinavian Representative for University of Peace, Sweden
Media Watch and Minority Adviser, Copenhagen, Denmark
Professor Daniel Tirapu
Royal Academy of Legislation and Jurisprudence, Madrid, Spain
S. L. Sharma
Director General, Institute of Social, Cultural & Religious Understanding, Copenhagen, Denmark
President, Foundation “Peace and Cooperation”, Madrid, Spain
Professor Johan Leman
Professor of Anthropology of Religion, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
Professor Chris Vonck, Rector of Faculty for Comparative Study of Religion – F.V.G., Antwerp, Belgium
Professor Lydia Bonte, Dean of Faculty for Comparative Study of Religion – F.V.G., Antwerp, Belgium
Karan Singh, President Sikh Foundation, Switzerland