Fight against sects: the orientations of Georges Fenech continue to generate worry

Le Monde 2009 04 06

MIVILUDESSix months after his posting as head of Miviludes, he should receive in the coming days his official battle plan from the Prime Minister who has direct authority upon him.

If he didn’t yet get the last arbitrations, the former MP has a precise idea of how he wants to orientate the fight against sectarian abuses in France. He wishes to get it « more active and more operational ». His orientations continue to generate worry.

The former MP proposes to establish «  a referential » of the groups on which Miviludes was alerted. « This is absolutely not a list like the one of 1995 (issued by a parliamentary commission, it listed 173 movements)”, he said to avoid any polemics. « This is about issuing a list of the files we had to work on, with a description of the practices that represent a danger, and giving a right to answer to the groups mentioned in it. Our willingness is to alert the public, not to stigmatize the organizations ».


With the purpose to guarantee the « respect of contradictory », this right to answer is a news compared to the previous projects. This is not enough to reassure the opponents to the very principle of such a list. « What does allow to denounce an entire group when sectarian abuses are concerning only individuals? » asks an anthropologist, author of « Individus et pouvoir face aux sectes » (Individuals and power vs. sects) – (Armand Colin, 2008).

« This process only exists in France. Things are allowed about “sects” which one forbids oneself regarding other groups. »

Same reservations at the Ministry of Interior which, on behalf of  « Freedom of Conscience », favors a policy focused on the punishment of evidenced crimes rather then a stigmatization of potentially sectarian groups. The Ministry also suggests to draw « a listing of crimes ». « But the sectarian abuses are not limited to crime investigations »,  claims  M. Fenech. « We receive testimonies of families completely destroyed (in which members were victims of sectarian hold), and there is no complaint to Justice ».

In that case, Evangelist groups are regularly pointed at. The president of the Protestant Federation of France is worrying that such a list could produce « unacceptable abuses »; he hopes to meet with the Prime Minister in a few days to tell him about his worries.

« If a group violates the law, the existing laws are enough to sue it. We don’t need a court of exception »,  he says.

The wish of M. Fenech is to create a « cell of mobile intervention » including policemen, gendarmes, medical doctors, psychologists, within Miviludes, but it was regarded as inappropriate by the Ministry of Justice and rejected by the Ministry of Interior. Described as « police of sects » by his detractors, this team of experts could be housed from now on by a Ministry. « It would reinforce the existing structures while working at the same time together with Miviludes », claims M. Fenech.

The annual report of Miviludes will be released on 19 May, and should insist on sectarian abuses within the psychotherapy practices. Each Ministry will state its goals regarding fight against sectarian abuse; the Ministry of National Education should among others set up «a list of children educated in their families ».

Stéphanie Le Bars


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