FECRIS, a NGO financed by the French government


Video and text of the paper by Thierry Valle, Director of the NGO CAP Liberté de Conscience, at the International Convention Law and Freedom of Belief ein Europe, an arduous journey, held in Florence on 18-19 January 2018.

FECRIS, a NGO financed by the French government

CAP LC is an association created in 2000 to unite minority religions in Europe to counter discrimination in France and in Europe. It has NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

For years France has put in place a discriminatory apparatus of fight against minorities of religion or belief stigmatize d as “sects”.

Since 2009, the Inter-ministerial Mission of Vigilance and Fight against Sectarian Deviances (MIVILUDES) holds a repository of records on hundreds of movements it characterized as « sectarian » on the sole basis of denouncements or complaints against minority belief movements. These records are provided by MIVILUDES to Judges, Prosecutors, personnel dealing with Youth and Family matters, Ministries and other officials. In parallel, training sessions on “sects” are regularly delivered to these officials, in particular Judges and Police forces. A special anti-sect Task Force has been created, CAIMADES (Assistance and Intervention Unit for Sectarian Drifts), within the Central Direction of the Judiciary Police which undertakes investigations as soon as an individual is suspected to belong to a “sect”.

Since its creation in 2009, this Task Force has proceeded to biased investigations upon the denouncements eceived by MIVILUDES, where the members of minorities were systematically presumed guilty. CAP LC received a number of testimonies over the years which evidence their prejudice, such people suspected of shamanistic practices whose homes were raided and were put in custody, groups of persons denounced to MIVILUDES as “dangerous sects” who were interrogated and put under pressure to denounce their “guru”, others denounced as being “gurus” who were put in preventive detention for up to 18 months, etc.

The last testimony and request of assistance received by CAP LC was from a man of Indian origin residing in Canada. His girlfriend in France was organizing meditation seminars and was denounced to MIVILUDES as such. During his last visit to her, they were part of group of 6-7 people in meditation when a whole police force raided and arrested them.

They were all armed and behaved as if they were dealing with terrorists. He was explained that the charges against him were that he “had used fraudulent techniques to manipulate weak minds to defraud them of their money” and “had used Indian techniques and created mysterious Indian atmosphere to influence these people” and that he “belonged to the sect of sex guru OSHO”. This man could not understand the accusations since “guru” in India simply means religious leader and a sect is simply a religious denomination. He was put in preventive detention for six months with prohibition to leave France and has been waiting for trial for now two years.

France is trying to impose its model of managing the religious minorities issue to other European countries. To achieve this goal an European federation was created by the French anti-cult lobby: FECRIS (the European Federation of Center of Research and Information on Sectarianism).

It was founded in Paris on 30th June 1994 at the instigation of the French anti-sect association UNADFI (National Union of Association for the Defense of Family and the Individuals).

Since years CAP LC exposes the harmful activities of the FECRIS in Europe and mainly in Russia and its integral financing by the French Government.

Members of FECRIS and of its Russian branch, the Saint Ireneus of Lyons Centre for Religious Studies which is affiliated to the Orthodox Church, have been waging for years a campaign against non-Orthodox minorities in order to eradicate them from the Russian territory. Alexander Dvorkin, Vice-President of FECRIS and Director of the Saint Ireneus of Lyons Centre is the major spokesperson and activist in this campaign against religious minorities in Russia.

The situation of religious minorities has now worsened during the last months: the banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ practice of their faith on the Russian territory; and the sentencing of five Scientologists to two months pretrial detention and a raid of their Church in St Petersburg.

FECRIS claims in its by-laws that its activities do not enter «the religious field» and declares to be neutral in this matter. How is it then that the Vice-President of FECRIS, an organization registered in secular France and massively financed by the French State, is Alexander Dvorkin, a Russian citizen blessed, financed and missioned by the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch to combat religious minorities perceived as competitors?

Sometime ago, Alexander Dvorkin fiercely criticized Falun Gong. How can Alexander Dvorkin, vice-president of FECRIS, granted by the UN of the ECOSOC status, can attack Falun Gong while the persecution of its members has been extensively denounced in UN reports since the years 2000?

It is inadmissible that such “anti-sect” groups structured at the European level are recognized for their alleged expertise by European or International institutions when they show such blatant prejudice. Concerning the so-called “sect issue” France should now look more deeply for some inspiration in the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights.

Thierry Valle
Director of the NGO CAP Liberté de Conscience