Raelians fight 'discrimination'

Controversial movement's leader decries exclusion from UNESCO manifesto

The Gazette (Montreal)/July 28, 2000
By Mike King

The spiritual leader of the cult-like Raelian movement has accused UNESCO of religious discrimination and vows to fight back.

"We will take this case before UNESCO's grand council to denounce this religious discrimination which is contrary to UNESCO's constitutional act," Rael told The Gazette yesterday, reading from a statement to be made public today.

He said the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has excluded the Raelian religion from its Manifesto 2000, a worldwide petition for peace and non-violence.

Hundreds of Raelians, attending the group's annual international convention at their UFOland in Valcourt, landed in downtown Montreal yesterday to solicit signatures for the manifesto and to promote their form of religion.

As the medallion-wearing Raelians stopped people along the busiest section of Ste. Catherine St. yesterday to encourage them to sign the peace manifesto, many also handed out pamphlets on their controversial religion. In response to a statement issued by the Raelians on Wednesday claiming messenger status for the public declaration, UNESCO headquarters in Paris responded with a terse: "This organization is not a messenger of the Manifesto 2000 and doesn't figure in any partnership list published on the Web site for the UNESCO International Year of Culture and Peace."

But Rael argued that "the link with the Raelian religion on UNESCO's Internet site was only active for one month as well as the account number used to send signatures online."

Alexander Lofthouse of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO said from Ottawa on Wednesday that "we've certainly never signed a partnership agreement with them." "Regardless, we have been UNESCO's partner for one month and this cannot be denied," Rael argued, claiming that his followers have already collected "several thousand signatures" in Europe.

"The fact that we have been excluded proves the extent to which UNESCO, like the UN, are manipulated by the occidental superpowers - even when it comes to religious discrimination, which UNESCO is supposed to fight against," he said.

"It is striking to realize that the Manifesto 2000 is put forth by UNESCO as a 'petition for the respect for life and the dignity of every human being without discrimination or prejudice' and the Raelian religion was excluded," he said.

The hedonistic Raelians - about 500,000 members known for their liberal sexual practices - believe mankind evolved from an extraterrestrial laboratory experiment.

Raelians support the ideals set forth in the peace manifesto.

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