President of FECRIS
Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am glad to welcome friends and like-minded people from 21 nations (it’s 21 only because the Ukrainians did not manage to get a visa) in a country that not only has a special importance for the future of a more and more united Europe, but that is just now taking important steps to get the problem that face us all, under legal control.
During the last century, many European countries suffered from the destroying influence of totalitarian systems that promised their citizens heaven on earth but finally brought hell. Nevertheless, today, mainly young people who have not known those totalitarian regimes are prone to fall prey of a guru’s suggestion. They may follow leaders whose first aim is to gain power over them and who, not content to take over their assets take over their souls.
Frequently, though not always, religion is abused and, under the pretext of religious freedom, every other human freedom, especially that of children is violated. This is continually pin pointed by family organisations that are systematically slandered by the despotic gurus, as the “persecutors of religious minorities”. In this context, I particularly want to praise the Norwegian association Redd Barna – Save the children. We had invited one of them to speak today, but he was unfortunately unable to come. On offer you will find a brochure, translated into English and German, which urgently points to the violation of the rights of children and youngsters by isolated faith communities.
As the father of a daughter, now 43, who joined such a problematic group 23 years ago, I know from my own experience what I am talking about. I do not wish anybody to have the same fate. Unfortunately, many people who do not have such an experience, cannot imagine what happens there, and are inclined to blame the parents or the concerned person herself. Therefore we need information, both for the broad public but also for experts. For this purpose, meetings as the one we have here today shall serve and I wish it a great success.