Belgium is under fire for actions taken as a result of the 1998 legislation that created its “Center for Information and Advice on Harmful Sectarian Organizations.”

The report states:

“Some recognized religions complain of incidents of religious discrimination. For example, leaders of the Muslim Executive Council report that women and girls wearing traditional dress or headscarves in some cases face discrimination in employment and public and private school admissions, even though the law does not prohibit such dress.

“The police raided the Church of Scientology’s Brussels headquarters for the second time on February 8, 2001, at which time additional documents were seized. Most of the computer equipment seized in a previous raid has been returned to the Church, but the documents still are held by the investigating magistrate. The Government has refused to provide additional information on the case since it is still under investigation. On March 6, 2001, the Church of Scientology filed a formal complaint against the Government with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance.”

U.S. Action Taken:

“In October 2000, the Director of the State Department’s Office of Religious Freedom traveled to Brussels and met with the director of the Belgian Government’s Center for Information and Advice on Harmful Sectarian Organizations. There he expressed U.S. concern that the very existence of a government-mandated agency to provide information on ‘harmful’ organizations strongly suggests an official judgment that the groups on which it maintains data are in fact ‘harmful,’ which in turn could have a chilling effect on religious freedom in Belgium.”

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