How much does it cost and what is the utility of the Anti-Sects Squad? Radical party inquiry

witch hunt

While on the State Police big cuts have been made affecting our daily and immediate needs of our forces remain standing teams and counselors of which utility not everybody agree. On this subject the Radicali (Radical party) have spoken on the 5th of November with a parliamentary inquiry: the senator Marco Perduca addressed himself to the Interior Ministers , Minister of Justice and Labor and Minister of Social Policy to know how much it costs the department anti-sects ndt: cults) of the State Police in relation to the academic competences of its representatives and at its necessity according to the cases in which the phenomenon of “sects” affects the public order.

The questions asked to the government emphasize some contradictions. The constitution declares that "all the religious confessions are equally free in front of the law": however there exists a proper branch of the State Police which works to monitor the cults without however specify the border line between religion and a sect. The Latin etymology (from seco) doesn't help us. According to its origins the word indicates the results of a split inside system of faith, which produces an independent confession. In this sense Christianity born as a sect of Hebraism and was heavily persecuted. Therefore the sect looks like something that needs protection, as a minority inside a religious manifestation, that being so, must be protected: and therefore a group that must be defended twice, because weaker.

Instead in the common language the word “sect” indicates religious groups that arouse suspicion for their activity. The cases with which similar phenomena turn up is extremely discussed. In the case of the Satanic Beasts for example it has been said of a “Satanic Sect” actually we were dealing with boys which were in no way organized as a cult. There was no sacred book, neither secret rites, nor a liturgy. (it was said that they have killed in the name of Hell: even though it is embarrassing to admit, history teaches us that never so many victims have been massacred in the name of Beelzebub as the blood spilled for the glory of Christ. This, because it is not God nor the Devil to arm the hand of the murderer).

Our Constitution doesn't tolerate restrictions to the freedom of cult, as the Chart of Human Rights and the Council of Europe has expressly recommended to not use the word “sects” which has assumed a connotation definitely derogatory. It results that the Squad has committed several judicial errors, that have caused a useless clamor while it was coordinated by the Anti- Sect Forum it seems though that the associations which make up this Forum have an exact political purpose the re-introduction of the crime of plagiarism of the fascist era (ndt: plagio or mental manipulation) which against it sided, alone, Marco Pannella in the famous (and outrageous) Braibanti case and which was then abolished for being unconstitutional”, Perduca explained.

In Belgium, for example, the situation is even more delicate pauvre Belgique!, Baudelaire would have said if he only knew that in the list of "Dangerous Sects" of that country there is no less than the community of Saint Egidio. Even with us there is no lack of controversy. The Italian Forum, as Perduca made us notice in the inquiry presented together with the senator Donatella Peretti, is the member of the FECRIS (a French organism that has been in the middle of several controversies tied to religious intolerance) and it is composed mainly by four associations Association research and information on sects - ARIS, Study Center Psychological Abuse - CESAP, Family victims of sects - FAVIS, and Hands Off Children. On these stands out the priest Don Aldo Bonaiuto of the Giovanni XXIII Community as principal counselor, so much that the service anti-sect, which has also a free number available by the community falls into the circular itself with which the Squad Anti-Sect has been instituted, in 2006, by the head of the police Giovanni De Gennaro.

Because of the ambiguity of some elements, as the fact that the principal counselor of the Squad for the monitoring of minor cults results be a catholic priest, and the difficulties of the crisis that has caused recently the nth cuts of the State Police, we ask the government to clarify the costs of this department, and the academic competences of its referents. If the activity of this Squad should result not necessary or are not compatible with the constitutional principles as regard to religious tolerance, would it be better to direct these funds at branches of unquestionable social utility of the Police, as for that of prisons?”, Perduca asked.

In fact, that a priest of the main religion acts as consultant of the State Police to determine whether a minority confession is dangerous or not set a precedent questionable, and when Don Bonaiuto, a guest on “Vade Retro” TV program rails against Halloween and paganism return raises some doubts as to his impartiality, especially since his debut as a collaborator of the police was with satanic cult, proved as inexistent, “Angels of Sodom” the name given to the alleged organization from same Bonaiuto based on the writings of a defendant. Why four years after the case the State Police has decided to open a special department anti-sects that had him as its main representative?

Also the other that composing the Anti-sect Forum have been subject of controversy. ARIS founded by Ennio Malatesta which rose honor to the headlines in 1988 declaring of wanting to help parents to “de-program young sons or daughters who fell in the hands of sects”. The first parliamentary inquiry on the work of ARIS was done in 1989, in which is asked, “if it cannot be recognized in ARIS the extremes of an unconstitutional association and insidious for the personal freedoms, placed that his president Ennio Malatesta results suspected of seizure of person (Pesce kidnapping, Public Prosecutor Office of the Republic of Brescia) and he has expressed publicly to favor the so what called ‘de-programming’ and the de-programmer Martin Fayers wanted by Scotland Yard and recently arrested by the Swiss police for the kidnapping of a person”..

The CeSAP can be remembered for the counseling in the Arkeon case, in which a researcher, internationally recognized, Raffaella Di Marzio, as Perduca remembers “to those interrogating it results to be charged for criminal organization for the only fact of having conduct studies on a group that was at the center of investigation by the SAS, charges that have been filed by the Judge for the preliminary investigations for the groundlessness of the new of crime in date 8th March 2011”. Acquitted even the founder of ArkeonVito Carlo Moccia.

The FAVIS, that like the other referents “fights” for the re-introduction of plagiarism was founded by Maurizio Alessandrini on a base of a personal painful experience: the story of his son, “plagiarized (brainwashed) and enmeshed by the destructive sect”. Recently his son talked openly in an interview issued by a television of Rimini, about a difficult childhood, he talked of problems he had with his father itself, of the fact that as soon as he entered in the “destructive” group he has been immediately identified as “brainwashed” by Alessandrini at a point that this man decided to start an association against mental manipulation; and he said how, in his attempt, to make him an emblem of the danger of sects, his father made burnt earth in the community he was living in, to a point that he was pushed to transfer.

It is correct to specify that these are painful parental episodes and that they deserve the total respect and discretion even by the press; especially since the different versions, in such stories, is properly a characteristic of the dynamic itself in which they develop and rarely we find ourselves in front of an absolute truth opposed to an absolute lie, while more commonly the perception of the events by the persons involved differs so much that bring a father and a son, like a wife and a husband or two brothers to tell the stories that are totally incompatible between them. However the question that remains here is the following: the Italian state once has established the necessity (not yet, it would seem, sufficiently demonstrated) to open a specific department of Police to fight back the “sects” doesn't have a famous academic known as an impartial reference point for the scientific community which one could address for eventual counseling knowing the delicacy of the subject? Several names turn up in the mind: one amongst all is Massimo Introvigne president of the CENSUR and coordinator of the Observatory on Religious Freedom.

One asks himself was it really necessary to choose referents deeply influenced by painful personal experiences to a point that they coordinate Police investigation, even if I reaffirm my total respect for their personal cases? Aldo Verdecchia himself started Hands Off Children convinced that his son of two years old, assigned by the court of minors to his mum, was brainwashed (plagiarized) by a “sect morally degenerated, pornographers and brainwashers, connected with judicial, political and religious authorities”, “baited by the sect and carried away by a magistracy order”, which would have then purposely “dragged him to live in a community where rites of reincarnation are celebrated, spiritual séances are practiced and sordid meetings between minors and adults occur” to a degree that he considers “a miracle” that the sect hasn't made “explode” his firm of sweets according to what he declared to the newspaper “Il Giornale”.

Surely these are dramatic situations that are difficult to face. The marital separations between two persons are painful and the religion, unfortunately at times creates real furrows so deep as if they were injuries that need healing. We are sure though that the State Police however can find a reference point that is sufficiently cautious and gives guarantees in a person who is convinced that “pedophiles often are founders of associations against pedophilia and the plagiarists are founders of associations against plagiarism” and that “Italy has become the paradise of plagiarists”?

Personally I have been able to relatively ascertain the effects on the territory, mainly in the suburbs of the cities the difficulties the police has to face in this difficult economic period, to a degree of not being able to equate the needs of protecting citizens from thefts, robberies, burglaries and the questionable necessity to prevent “sects” to practice mental manipulation. This has not been accepted as notion from the scientific community and to us it doesn’t result that religious groups have, on the other hand, any particular incidence on the common crimes, to the point of equalizing the general social alarm generated, for example, by the criminal organization, by the narco traffickers or by the common delinquency of the roads to that produced by cults or spiritual movements. The police however has already the necessary tools to intervene on cases of fraud, swindle, sexual abuses, etc. without the need of a specific department.

Moreover, as it is evident, what come to light when you see cases instigated by anti-sects movements is the unfair imprisonment of innocent people. The Children of Satan? Marco Dimitri was acquitted for non-existence of the fact. Jehovah's Witnesses charged of exorcism on a minor? Acquitted for the same reason (and it couldn't be in any other different way as this practice is forbidden by their religion). The Angels of Sodoma? Never existed. The Arkeon case? Acquitted the founder and also Di Marzio which was involved. The Satanic Sect of Florence for which Elena Finocchi was charged of murder? Never existed if not in her diaries when she was a teenager. Ananda Assisi? All acquitted in full. As regards other realities, for example Scientology stories like that of Maria Pia Gardini produces more questions than answers on the real danger represented by the religious minorities, than the principles themselves on which Italy and the European Union is founded on which they impose us rather than protect us.

However, people is afraid. They are in fear because of the moral panic that has been created and fed from cases aroused by associations that are difficult to recognize as above the parts (as super partes), that today have a role in the police investigations and that ask for hearings in Parliament to re-introduce the crime which we have already seen the disastrous effects with the Braibanti case. According to the procedures that have been opened in the last ten years, it seems that who belongs to a minor religion can be easily prosecuted; and who doesn't belong to any can be involved in police investigations for the music he plays or for the thoughts he writes.

Then surely comes the acquittal: after a media pillory, precautionary imprisonment, the psychological, economic and spiritual impact on the life of innocents involved. The word “sect” itself, we must remember, is a form of discrimination. The State has the duty to protect the freedom of who profess his own faith, must punish crimes, where there are, in any area where they occur, whether it's a prayer group, a multinational or the hierarchy of a major religion, without distinctions, because the law is equal for everybody and must not become a tool of persecution of the major on the minor.

It happens instead that public money has been too often used to create a lot of noise for nothing; and what is worse is that while we discuss of this the Policemen put their lives at risk to protect citizens using their own personal money to put fuel in the police cars and the means of transportation used by the penitentiary police are so old that they stop in the middle of the road with the prisoners inside.

We hope that the government will answer to the questions asked by the inquiry of Marco Perduca. Nobody would hope this would happen, but if it is true, in the economic conditions in which the country is in, that we pay experts, far from being suitable, to protect us from a danger that doesn't exist, if we had really paid counseling to a priest for having him tell us which cults are dangerous and which are not, if it is true that we finance with large amounts of money the moral panic to damage the principles of our Constitution, it means that Monty Python was right “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition”.

Camillo Maffia

Issued Wensday, 14 November 2012 13:53
Taken from:

Testata Agenzia Radicale