Media rebuff cult criticism

South China Morning Post, October 29, 1999
By Vivien Pik-Kwan Chan

The official media have released a lengthy article in answer to international criticism of Beijing's crackdown on Falun Gong. A Xinhua commentary argued that France had taken similar measures in recent years to ensure social stability.

"The French Government has strengthened its surveillance on cults and superstitious organisations which badly affected young people and threatened social stability," the news agency said.

The state propaganda machine said the French Government had monitored every move of cult followers to prevent them "'taking any extreme action against society".

Paris had also clamped down on those who used religious cover for profit and were involved in illegal activities.

It had mobilised social aid agencies to help find jobs and provide living subsidies to those members who decided to quit cult groups, said Xinhua. Human rights groups and politicians in France protested against the mainland crackdown on Falun Gong during President Jiang Zemin's recent visit to France.

Xinhua quoted a report by the Cults Investigation Commission of the French National Assembly which said there were about 170 groups in France similar to that of the Solar Temple, which was involved in mass suicides in Switzerland, Canada and France in 1994 and 1996.

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