The Church of Scientology said Thursday it had filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against a new French law cracking down on religious sects.
"Thousands of believers face the prospect of heavy fines and prison sentences simply because of their religious affiliation," said a statement from the Scientologists Paris office. The church is based in Los Angeles.
The law approved May 30 was a direct response to sects such as the Order of the Solar Temple, a group that lost 58 members in mass suicides in Switzerland and Canada between 1994 and 1997.
Under the law, the judiciary can disband sects charged with committing abuses. The legislation also allows for stiffer punishments against sect leaders.