Bashy Quraishy, Chairman of European Network Against Racism Advisory Council (ENAR), Chair of the European Platform for Jewish Muslim Cooperation, and
Secretary General for the European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO) was excited to attend the European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Cults and Sects (FECRIS) meeting after receiving an invitation from their Treasurer. The secrecy he witnessed and the harassment he experienced shocked him.
“I was disgusted by the tone of the speeches there, the campaigns they were making against certain religions, and how secretive they were,” Quraishy said.
Formed in 1994, FECRIS, labeled an NGO, claims to be “politically, philosophically, and religiously neutral.” However, 93 percent of the “NGO’s” funding comes directly from the French government. With this backing, FECRIS appears to command an army working to take down unconventional religions across the Western sphere.
The FECRIS website states that members agree to a series of principles, including “respect of religious, philosophical, and political pluralism” as well as “objectivity and pragmatism.” However, Quraishy watched one speaker after another “making campaigns against certain sects and certain religions” and “not one suggestion about how to deal with the issues,” he explained in a video interview.
The FECRIS website also states that the organization “alert[s] public authorities and international institutions in the event of punishable activities.” However, when Quraishy asked FECRIS President Tom Sackville after biased presentations why FECRIS doesn’t “take people to court instead of making campaigns and why are the conferences so secretive,” he was met with hostility.
Quraishy suggested inviting private citizens to conferences, particularly Scientologists, so FECRIS could be better informed. At this point, Sackville went to the podium and stated to the room, “Here is Mr. Bashy Quraishy. He is a Scientologist and be careful,” Quraishy claims Sackville stated to the room. Others allegedly accused him of being a spy.
“I could not believe that an organization which presents itself as the guardian of civil rights of individuals, against brainwashing, was doing the exact same thing. And when I challenged them they didn't like it. So I left,” Quraishy said.
Quraishy’s experience is part of a larger picture that goes back to the root of FECRIS.
To understand FECRIS agenda clearly, one can look at its origin. FECRIS was formed in 1994 at the request of the National Union of Associations for the Defense of Family and the Individual (UNADFI), a public utility founded in 1974 “directly subsidized by the French State.
One key speaker at FECRIS’s formation was Alain Vivien, a French Socialist Party politician and former president of Interministerial Mission in the Fight Against Sects/Cults (MILS), Religious Freedom Watch writes. MILS disbanded in 2002 after its president resigned and “the French government rightfully acknowledged that MILS had been criticized for certain actions abroad that were perceived contrary to religious freedom,” former Congressman Heath Shuler wrote in a letter to former French Prime Minister François Fillon, expressing his discontent for a current similar organization that formed following the MILS demise.
Other speakers included Jacques Guyard and Ursula Caberta. The Justice Court of Paris found Guyard, a French MP and then-MILS member, guilty in 2000 for committing libel against Anthroposophy, labeling the philosophy “a cult” practicing “mental manipulation.” Caberta, a German politician and Scientology critic, urged for a European-wide foundation “that provides for legal and financial support to anti-religious groups” in her speech.
FECRIS current board members include vice president Rosa Boladeros, who has been a Pro-Juventud (now known as AIS) member since its formation in 1970. The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Spain for Pro-Juventud’s multiple deprogramming cases, which they recognized as a violation of human rights. Boladeros is still a voting member of the Barcelona Pro-Juventud group.
Quraishy argued that, “In the old days discrimination and racism was directed toward people of color and other ethnicities.” In the modern world, “That has changed from ethnic discrimination to cultural discrimination and more and more religious discrimination.”
He targets NGO networks, such as FECRIS, as the main force spearheading religious persecution in Europe. “NGO’s are a part of civil society. They are there to protect the civil society, the public, and the individuals against the state tyranny. Not the other way around,” Quraishy stated.