Demonstrations in France

Discussion in 'In The News' started by Utuna, Feb 28, 2013.

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    Utuna

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    Here is a translation of a French article about demonstrations in France against accusations of pedophilia. Sorry for the mistakes regarding English syntax.

    ----------------------------------------------------------​

    In the Vosges, 600 to 1,000 JWs against accusations of pedophilia

    About 600 JWs according to the police, and 1000 according to the organizers, made a demonstration on last Wednesday afternoon in front of the "Prefecture" of Vosges, at Epinal in order to protest against accusations of pedophilia uttered against them. The protesters denounced the "serious accusations destined to give false information and cause prejudice to JWs, and impede them to build a place of worship" at Deyvilliers (Vosges), was told the AFP by Guy Canonici, President of the Christian Federation of JWs, while going out of a meeting held in the Prefecture at 06h00PM.

    "It's the last straw ! We've been enduring criticism for years. That's going too far ! Enough is enough !" said Canonici with indignation.

    The anger of the believers is towards an association of defence of Environment of Deyvilliers (Aded), which have been active since 2004 in order to impede the building of a 1500 seats "Kingdom Hall" with a parking of 500 places in this village made up of 1400 inhabitants.

    The Aded, composed of about 400 members, invited to this meeting on Wednesday evening Bill Bowen, who had been JW for 43 years, disfellowshiped because of his denunciation of hypocrisy by this Church regarding the victims suffering from sexual abuse, who would amount to more than 23000 "all around the world", according to what he said.

    "From the very first day on, the leaders of this organization deny the fact that there are victims (of sexual abuse, editor's note). They are aware of the problem, but refuse to settle it. They keep on concealing it. They really are bad people", declared Mr Bowen, president of the association "Silent Lambs."

    Being formerly an elder, Bill Bowen, 51 years old, was working at the World Wide Headquarters in New York, and affirms having received more than 7 000 testimonies of abused believers "from all around the world", about which he published a thousand of stories on this internet site "Silent Lambs"

    "When a catholic child is sexually abused, his/her parents call the police. On the contrary, JWs call the elders, treating the case through internal procedures. Thus, no one knows what happened" said Bowen during his interview with AFP.

    The demonstration of Wednesday at Epinal is a part of the "intimidation tactics" of JWs so that they can "do whatever they want", this man assessed.

    Although the JWs bought this 64 ha land some 4 years ago at Deyvilliers, JWs weren't able to make some progress regarding their project, while the planning permission is being blocked by the town hall.

    In 2007, JWs asked for the dissolution of the Aded, because it organized " systematic smear campaigns", setting up "discriminatory actions in order to impede the building of a place of worship". In may 2007, the Epinal magistrate's court decided to nonsuit the plaintiff.

    On Tuesday, M. Bowen was received, among others, by Georges Fenech, the president of the Miviludes, as we learned it from a comment of this very association.
     
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    Utuna

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    Dear all,

    As I stated previously, I'm going to give you some contextual information regarding these events in France.

    About 5-6 years ago, we were given instructions from Bethel through a letter read among all the congregations in France. We were suffering from smear campaigns in the medias, under the aegis of anti-sects associations and hateful members of Parliament. They said many things against us, as usual, too many fibs surrounding a core of truth. They're so stupid that the sole truth they have against us in their message is swamped by heaps of nonsense. Among the accusations they uttered against us was that they considered us as antisocials.

    Then, French Bethel sent a letter talking about these accusations and, among others, regarding our seemingly "antisocial" behaviour. The letter said that we were not antisocial as the meaning may be associated with anarchism. We were not against any kind of government, but fully respecting the laws of the country, paying taxes, etc. To that end, the letter exhorted us to fully comply our "civil" duties as long as the latter didn't contravene God's laws. Nothing is wrong so far. For example, conscription is over since 2000, but young ones (aged 16) must register themselves to the city hall as the law requires from them in order to attend later to a day of civic instruction, where they are told about what is a citizen, with details about the rights and duties they owe to the nation.

    Nevertheless, something "weird" came when the question of voting arised. In France, voting is not compulsory but being registered in the voting lists is. No fines are imposed if you're not registered, but it is a legal requisite. The letter stressed on this point and many JWs came later to the city hall to get registered. But, the letter added that, according to local necessities, and especially rural places where anyone knows about anyone else, if JWs were subject to serious objections regarding their freedom or standpoint, JWs could use their voting card and show themselves in the polling stations while "voting", so that hostile people may see us having a social behaviour. Behind the curtain, you may insert in the envelope whatever a paper you want as long as it is not valid (blank vote is considered as valid). This latter instruction depended on individual consciences and nothing was to be said against any brother seen "voting". I know many of JWs doing so.

    Bethel uses legal means to achieve its aim. What Bethel said about voting is the same regarding other legal questions, such as demonstrations. In France, demonstrations are allowed by the law, and the constitution. It's a legal way of demonstrating our discontent. French people use and abuse of it. Bethel uses it when it deems it useful, especially when medias are around, showing our "social" behaviour and refuting long held accusations such as pedophilia. These deeds are quite dangerous because the frontier between neutrality and activism is rather thin.

    As for my concern about the future, until recently, we were quite free to worship God as we wished. We had media "pushings" from time to time, but nothing really serious. A few years ago, following the murders that occured through "l'Ordre du Temple Solaire", and other problems having arrived later, the governement established an association called MIVILUDES, meaning (Mission Interministrielle de VIgilance et de LUtte contre les DErives Sectaires). We had several brushes with it in the past, but the latest developements showed that nothing serious was found against us regarding the way our children were raised. The problem comes from the recent appointement as president of the very hateful member of Parliament who triggered the wave of smear campaigns years ago G. FENECH (he is quoted at the end of the article above). Until now, we could cope with the accusations because they were not realy serious and our opponents had a moderate position. However, this man is a real pitbull, full of hatred. I'm afraid he could trigger real persecutions against us, mainly based on fibs surrounding a core of truth...

    http://www.miviludes.fr
     
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    Utuna

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    Dear all,

    I didn't find how to start a new topic so I chose to post here (for your personal information) the copy of a tract that the French JWs distributed 4 years ago from door to door or in open streets.

    It's related to the tax issue you know all very well.

    [​IMG]

    Sorry, I'm very tired by now, I'll translate it tomorrow as soon as I can.
     
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    Utuna

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    In France, demonstrations and strikes are a legal way to vent out anger related to any disputed issue against the government, official institutions, etc. It's written in the law. It has nothing to do with political matters, as long as the demonstrations are conducted peacefully and kept aloof from any other political or union-like institutions.

    B/s are allowed to participate in demonstrations but the thin frontier between it and more political issues or all-out actions of some radical members is often a powerful deterrent for the said b/s to stop their share in it all before starting it.
     
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    Utuna

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    Dear TheMdC,

    behaviour #1: Please read John 17:15. Being no part of the world doesn't mean that we can't use all the legal means available to make ourselves understood by the political authorities. Being ready to discuss, negociate and/or dismiss any prejudice against us is, IMO, not the same as political struggles or thirst for power. I think that peaceful demonstrations in order to let the national or local authorities that there's something wrong somewhere in their behaviour towards us and that we have a message to communicate to all isn't bad in itself.

    behaviour #2:


    In some countries, citizens that don't want to vote are fined or even jailed. As long as the only thing required from them is to get into an polling booth, no matter what they insert in the envelope.... why not?

    If nothing important is really at stake, and that the b/s do that just to turn personal or local situations to their advantage... I don't like it and that's what I wanted to express in the post you had in mind when you asked me that question.

    If the WT exhorts us to go into polling booths just to shut the mouth of opponents who accuse us of being antisocial individuals or to be in good terms with local authorities in order to get some advantages in return, I don't like it at all. Officially, it's a personal conscience-based decision!

    That's just my take on it!
     
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    Utuna

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    Here is a reply from my dear sister Panda :

     
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    Utuna

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    Dear all,

    Here the English translation of the tract posted above:

    -----------------------------


    No to the discrimination
    against the Jehovah's Witnesses


    Faced with the 60% taxation of the donations received by the association "the Jehovah's Witnesses",


    NO!

    -> No! to the discriminatory policy directed against a not-for-profit organization and a religious denomination,

    -> No! to the seizure of modest donations via an unfair taxation,

    -> No! to the filing of the religion of donors by the authorities.

    It has never happened before!

    The Tax Department is seizing 60% of the religious donations received by the association "the Jehovah's Witnesses" whereas it had earlier confirmed their not-for-profit status and their disinterested management.

    That taxation measure hits the religious centre of the Jehovah's Witnesses which owner is said association. That unfair tax is the result of pressures put on by antireligious lobbies and a handful of members of Parliament.

    That discriminatory measure

    => violates the fundamental principles of equality and freedom,
    => confiscates the modest donations of believers,
    => institutes the filing of the religion of thousands of donors.

    Every person having a great love of liberty shall feel the need to express his indignation about those serious drifts.

    -----------------------------------

    Even if my translation isn't perfect, I hope you'll be able to have an idea of what's written on the tract. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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    Utuna

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    Another comment from our sister Panda :

     
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    Utuna

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    Comment written by a former member :

     
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    Utuna

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    Dear TheMdC,

    I didn't say that the org endorses or encourages the presence of JWs in political protests. That's not what I said.

    I said that demonstrations are a legal way in France to demonstrate peacefully our disagrement and that's why the org used it in the example I quoted here on this thread. As soon as politics are concerned, the most strict neutrality is advised.

    As for the polling places, I agree with you that it's more than ambiguous. But things may be totally different from a country to another and may depend on the local laws of where you live. For example, I don't know if american b/s can own a firearm at home and/or hunt for food...? Here, in France, you'll have big troubles with the elders if they ever hear that you go hunting or that you have a rifle or a gun at home.

    Absolute unity of thoughts and behaviours is impossible because too many factors (and antinomic most of the time) would have to be taken into consideration in order to reach that utopic situation.

    That thread isn't in the proper category because of an error from me when I started the topic. Sorry!
     
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    Utuna

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    Dear Billy2,

    That's what I tried to explain to TheMdC. Cultures, laws and mentalities are different from a country to another. We're not supposed to do demonstrations AGAINST the government but we use a feature that the government created himself so that all citizens may publicly and peacefully express their ideas. However, said feature is often used with political motives and may end up badly...

    The 60% taxation will have no consequences on kingdom halls (law1905) because the taxation hits the secular national association (law1901). Each congregation has constituted a local cultual association and is totally independant from the secular national association. The worst situation would be the seizure of the buildings at Louviers, the French branch. That's why they took the presses to London so that they may not lose them if the worst ever happened.

    The following is also an answer to James. In France, on legal grounds, religions don't exist anymore since 1905. Since that date, the State and religion (catholic at that moment) are totally distinguished and independant. The best way to avoid preferential treatments is to discard them all, on legal grounds of course! Hence, the State can't have official contacts with a religion unless a cultual association (law 1905) is constituted. The same occurs on local levels (between a local congregation and the city hall, for example) with local cultual associations. Secular associations are based on the 1901-law and until recently, religions having the 1901 and 1905 status were considered the same. As a result, religious donations could be used for both of them. But, theory and reality aren't the same. Not-for-profit associations (1901) should have their bank balance at zero at the end of each budgetary year. Cultual associations don't have such restraints on their accountability. The exceeding part is taxed 60% of the "benefit". Until recently, that taxation was not demanded by the Tax Department and many other religious groups had kept both legal status. What was imposed on French JWs is serious also for the Catholic church for example because the State could demand the money back to the Catholic church too but it didn't. Only JWs were concerned and that's the reason why we say that it is discriminatory and totally unfair. If JWs have to pay, other religions must do it too, all or no one!

    I hope my explanations were clear enough!
     
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    Utuna

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    Dear James,

    Here in France, firearms are strictly controlled. If you're caught with a gun, an assault rifle or else, you're nearly certain to end up in jail, for a short stay though. Other less powerful weapons are authorized if you have the appropriate valid licence and reasons to possess one of them at home.

    The unique authorizations are granted to policemen, hunters and those doing sports shooting.

    In my previous post, I was talking about big troubles with elders, not with the authorities. In France, Bethel says that we have enough food all over the place (which is true,[​IMG]) to satisfy our needs without having to go hunting. A brother going hunting would do it as a hobby and killing animals whereas it is not vital is against the sacredness of life (1Cor10:23). A hunter brother would never have privileges in the congregation for example and would be ostracized somewhat for not accepting spiritual privileges because of a hobby. The elders would tell him to spend his time fishing men (preaching work) instead of going hunting. The same is for paintball and air-soft games or compressed air guns.

    By implication, the situation would be worst if you had a gun or a rifle at home. Added to what I explained above, you'd be given a good lecture because of the dangers of having a gun at home. Paradoxically, having a bow or a crossbow at home is considered as accepted.

    Of course, here as anywhere else in the world, some local elders will be inquisitive and sticky like a leech whereas, in other locations, other elders will just keep a soft and furtive eye on the case...
     
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    Utuna

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    Dear all,

    I've found very interesting articles (in French) about that subject*:

    (click here) Donations in France.

    (click here) the JWs case.

    (click here) English and official explanation by the WT.

    *I'll try to find the time to translate it all but it's very long....., especially the second article. (Edit: reminds that I still gotta do it.... ;))

    Furthermore, I made an error:

    I said: "The exceeding part is taxed 60% of the "benefit".

    I should have said: "Because of the exceeding part, Bethel is taxed 60% of the total "income" or donations, on religious grounds.
     
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    Utuna

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    Dear all,

    Another one, a newsletter* from a French bank, la Société Générale!

    Very interesting too... !

    Wow, regarding translations, I've got a lot on my plate for the next few days...

    It explains why the taxation is unfair.

    *in French!
    ---------------------------------------------------

    Here is the French text so I can find it at once in case the link is broken again and for whenever I decide to tackle the translation of it in English :

    "Chronique mensuelle - Par Noël RAIMON
    Avocat associé, Directeur du Pôle activités non marchandes du cabinet FIDAL


    Même causes, mêmes effets : en confirmant l’argumentation qu’elle avait déjà exposée en 2004 dans sa célèbre jurisprudence « Témoins de Jéhovah » [SUP](2)[/SUP] la Cour de cassation démontre qu’elle a de la suite dans les idées !

    Se fondant ainsi sur une interprétation très controversée de l’article 757 alinéa 2 du Code Général des Impôts stipulant que le don manuel révélé à l'administration fiscale par le donataire est sujet au droit de donation, en l’absence même de l'aveu spontané du don de la part du donataire, la Cour considère derechef que la présentation par une association de sa comptabilité lors d'une vérification régulièrement menée par l'administration fiscale, fût-elle la mise en oeuvre de l'obligation légale d'établissement et de présentation des documents comptables, vaut révélation au sens de cet article.

    Virtuellement applicable à toute association ne bénéficiant pas d’une exonération de droits de mutation à titre gratuit [SUP](3)[/SUP], cette argumentation pourrait avoir des conséquences financières redoutables puisque le droit de donation exigible dans de telles situations est de 60% du montant des dons, sans compter les éventuelles majorations !

    Si dans son contexte cette décision n’est pas réellement surprenante, elle n’en constitue pas moins une mauvaise nouvelle, laissant planer sur nombre d’associations une épée de Damoclès particulièrement discrétionnaire permettant à l’administration fiscale de choisir ses cibles, au risque bien réel pour celles-ci de faire l’objet d’un traitement discriminatoire ne reposant sur aucune justification objective et raisonnable.
    "

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    For those who can read French

    http://www.droit-tj.fr/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2013
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    Utuna

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    Dear all,

    Here is the translation of the first link:

    ----------------------------


    Associations and donations in France

    Among the financing means available to all the not-for-profit associations (law 1901), the contributions were subjected to several modifications in France those last past 20 years, as well in the legislation as in the administrative policies. Worrying about the risk of taxation of contributions, the not-for-profit associations were exonerated of registration duties.

    Definition of a donation

    A contribution is literally a donation given personally (litt. trans: “from one hand to another handâ€), which implies a loss of the donor (the one who gives) and the becoming richer of the donee (the one who receives the donation). The main characteristic being a free decision to give, that is, the will to deprive oneself in behalf of the other part, without any compensation expected in return. Hence, it is characterized by modest donations, which are not a cause of bankruptcy, nor of increase of wealth. They must be distinguished from legally drawn up donations or legacies, because it is obvious that no certificates of donation is received.

    Ability to receive donations

    At first, the 1901 law didn’t expect the not-for-profit associations to receive donations. Nevertheless, the administrative policies tolerated during many years such a way of financing regarding the associations merely registered that didn’t have the significant means to receive donations, contrary to associations officially recognized as beneficial to the public at large, to cultural associations, etc. Since 1995, the Minister of the Interior had clearly said that “all the associations registered whatever their status, can freely receive private funds through donations that, because of their intrinsic nature, are not controlled by the administrationâ€.

    In the end, the 1987 law about the improvement of sponsorship explicitly authorized all the associations merely registered to receive donations, without any prior administrative authorization.
    Registration of donations

    The contributions are free from any registration, as well for the donor as for the donee.

    Such an absence of registration was criticized by a member of Parliament in his information file about “the measures against fraud and tax avoidanceâ€:

    “thus, the donations given to “not related†individuals don’t have to be registered, and taxed, as long as the Tax Department don’t ask for information about them. That absence of registration of donations is interesting regarding confidentiality, but it doesn’t make any improvements regarding equality about taxes.â€

    As no registration is required, this one being optional, the donations are hence not systematically subjected to the transfer taxes of donations. That’s why the deputy Jean-Pierre Brard proposed in November 1999 an amendment aiming at the subjection of all donations, ordinary donations excepted, to compulsory registration. Finally, that amendment was rejected.

    The tax return must be done with the form provided by the administration

    Taxation of the donations

    Article 757 of the tax code

    Such an absence of administrative control on donations incited later the legislature to revise the tax policies for the following two reasons:

    1) At first, large amounts of money between kins were made, without any obligation of tax transfer.

    2) During a return check, when the tax agent found hidden incomes, the taxpayer just had to say that it was a donation in order to avoid taxation (especially when threatened by a payment of back taxes).

    That’s why, the 1992 budget bill had the new article of law #757 added to the General Tax Code, which said:

    “The certificates containing either the registration done by the donor or his representants, or the legal receipt of a donation, are subjected to the donation code. The same rule applies when the donee reveals what he received to the Tax Departmentâ€.

    That possibility to tax automatically the donations thus revealed to the Tax Department should have settled the problem of the tax avoidance regarding income tax. The goal is not necessarily to tax all those donations, but the rate (60% between not related individuals) should incite the taxpayer to present the real nature of the revealed incomes.

    Application to associations

    If we examine the preparatory works of the 1992 budget bill, it was clear in the legislator’s mind that this arrangement was destined to real individuals, and especially the taxpayers who are subjected to the income taxation and not to legal entities such as not-for profit associations.
    Nevertheless, right from the start, doubts were expressed as to the risk of taxing the donations of associations? For instance, the deputy Jacques Roger-Machart asked a question to a Budget Minister about the “tax policies that should be applied to the donations revealed to the tax administration by a not-for-profit associationâ€. As he then already explained: “The article 15 of the 1992 budget bill says that said associations, when they’re doing book-keeping and receive receipts, could be subjected to the donations between not related individuals system, that is 60%, each time the donee can’t use the article 795 for tax exemption, which happens rarely. As an answer, the minister explained that the associations which exclusive goal is assistance and charity are exempted of tax transfer of their donations. He added that “the receipts provided to the donors by the associations subjected to the articles 200 and 238bis of the General Tax Code are without any consequences on the application of the measures recorded in the article 15 of the 1992 budget bill which concerns, mainly, real personsâ€.

    Taxation of not-for-profit associations


    Later, the administrative policies changed and it was decided that that taxation was also destined to the donations received by not-for-profit associations. During a totally new case, which surprised the whole associative world and that was largely criticized by jurists, the tax administration decided that the presentation of the books held by an not-for-profit association (1901 law) during a control made by an tax agent constituted a disclosure as required by the article 757 of the General Tax Code and that the donations thus recorded had to be registered within one month and were thusly subjected to the registration system.

    As an answer to a deputy, the Finance minister confirmed that new interpretation of the law, explaining that that automatic taxation of disclosed donations “were also destined to donations received by not-for-profit associationsâ€.

    In his judgment dated 2004, October 5th, the final Court of Appeal has rejected the case appealed by l’Association les Témoins de Jéhovah†and confirmed that the article 757 of the General Tax Code can also be applied to donations received by not-for-profit associations and that the files presented during a return check constitute a “disclosure†as interpretated by said article, which justifies the procedure of automatic taxation. An appeal was made against to the European Court of Human Rights in February 2005 and is actually in progress. In comments, the French government replied to the European Court that an amicable agreement was ideal: “The French government is honored to inform you that it is favorable to the settlement of that issue through an amicable agreement, as well as to any mediation offer from the Court (…) so that an agreement be found between both partsâ€.

    In another case concerning, that time, the Madarom, the final Court of appeal had reiterated its position according to which any accountancy files presented were an automatic cause for the taxation of donations. “L’association cultuelle du temple pyramide » and « l’Association des Chevaliers du lotus d’or » were subjected to a payment of back taxes regarding the money received between 1992 and 1995.

    Exemption of associations officially recognized as of general interest

    As a consequence of those new administrative policies destined to fight sects, the associations expressed their worries to see taxation hovering over their main means of financing. Because the sole associations recognized as beneficial for the public at large and cultural associations are exempted of the tax transfer of their donations, according to the article 795 of the General Tax Code. A first attempt to add in the laws the exemption of associations officially recognized as of general interest was proposed in May 2001, but was abandoned.
    Finally, the article 2 of the 2003 law related to sponsorship, to associations and foundations added the following sentence to the General Tax Code:

    “Those arrangements don’t apply to donations received by associations of general interest mentioned in the article 200â€.

    Since then, the associations that satisfy some criteria of general interests, which criteria enable tax reductions for the donors, are not at risk anymore to being taxed on the donations they receive, as required by the registration code, and especially when a booking check is under way.

    --------------------------------

    The text was full of specialized words about laws and taxes. Even with a dictionary, I'm not sure that I chose the proper renderings. As you know them better than I do, I know you'll understand anyway what I wrote.

    (Edit 2013: That translation is based on a Wikipedia article dated 08-08-2009 and said page may have changed or been modified since then).
     
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    Utuna

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    Dear Jinn,

    Yes, you're right! There are many duties that Caesar demands from us.

    But the French Caesar gave his people rights as well and especially the right to disagree! The French Caesar told his people that when some of them disagree, they have the right to get together and peacefully let other inhabitants of the country know why they disagree.

    The French Caesar said that it is a duty for French people to apply their rights! because thousands died in the past so that those rights may exist.

    You may disagree without being rebellious, don't you?

    Furthermore, the demonstration I was talking about is not against the government but against the way with which tragic events are used by the press and opponents in order to generate hatred against the JWs.

    TheMdC, I hadn't read the first post on this thread here again before this evening and I realized that this thread is located at the proper place (contrary to what I said previously), about sexual abuse among JWs. I didn't remember what the demonstration was all about. If you asked the question, is it because you hadn't read the whole thread? I'm puzzled...

    Jinn, you know me now. Please, my dear brother, don't take my present arguments as a blind trust in the WT. I want justice, not vengeance! If the WT is wrong, I agree with opponents about what is wrong but my conception of justice impedes me to discredit the WT on things about which they're right!

    Voltaire, a French philosopher said: "I disagree with you but I will fight so that you may express your opinion anyway!" Sometimes, I wonder whether who are the greatest champions of sectarism: the sects or their opponents!

    The real sentence is : "Je ne suis pas d'accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai jusqu'à la mort pour que vous ayez le droit de le dire."
    It means: "I don't agree with what you say, but I'm ready to fight and even die so that you may have the right to tell it!"

    That's what I think!
     
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    Dear Jinn,

    I used the word "sectarism" in my previous post. I thought it existed too in English as in French but I only see the word "sectarianism" instead and the meaning isn't really the same.

    Here is the meaning I had in mind when I used that word. It comes from the word "sectarian".

    "who shows intolerance, narrow-mindness in refusing to accept other opinions than the ones he/she puts forward".
     
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    Utuna

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    Dear all,

    Here is a translation of a letter that we received from the French branch about one month ago. (original post written on 11-01-2010).

    ---------------------------------------------------

    September, 30th of 2010
    To all the congregations of France

    Dear brothers,

    We are happy to communicate a very good news regarding the taxation case of the offerings of the Association Les Témoins de Jéhovah, concerning the years 1993 to 1996. Its application is not definitive, but it is the first step towards a happy conclusion of the case of the 60% taxation that has been worrying us for so many years.

    Last Wednesday, early in the evening, the European Court of Human Rights has issued a press release announcing that, according to the unanimous decision of the 7 judges in charge of the case, it had been decided, based on the article 9 of the European Convention of the protection of human rights and of fundamental freedoms, in regards to religious freedom to consider as admissible the complaint of the Association Les Témoins de Jéhovah.

    Please, notice that this very important decision doesn’t mean that victory is reached in this case, which must still be judged on its merits. Nevertheless, that is a decisive and indispensable step. We are now sure that the European Court is going to judge the case, which wasn’t the case previously.

    We are happy to share this excellent news with you all. This case not being settled yet, we invite you to keep praying Jehovah about it, according to those words recorded in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 : “I therefore exhort, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, offerings of thanks, be made concerning all sorts of men, concerning kings and all those who are in high station; in order that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousnessâ€￾.

    As explained in the verses quoted above, we wish to go on leading a calm and quiet Christian life with complete devotion to Jehovah God, under the direction of the Governing Body, in order to help our neighbor to know the Good News of the Kingdom.

    Dear brothers, be assured of our warm brotherly love,

    Your brothers,

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    [​IMG]
     
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    Dear Obadiah,

    You said : "I was just wondering if it was only us that they want to tax, or is it all religions."

    No, all religions were concerned by the tax but the JWs only were asked to pay. That's why the French JWs were all saying : "Everybody must pay or nobody !" Since nothing was demanded from other religions, it was clearly a discriminatory means to undermine the activities of the JWs in France. You should know that since the slaughter of the members of the Solar Temple about 15 years ago, there's a real witch hunt in France towards all unofficial religions#. Anti-sects movements are waging an all-out war against all the religious movements that they consider as sects or cults (often based on arbitrary criterias*). The Latin frame of mind (Italy, Spain, Portugal, France) in general and the French one here in this case is very traditionalist (especially regarding religion) and anything that isn't universally accepted will be considered as suspicious and even dangerous. The way JWs are considered in France on the one hand and in Anglo-Saxon countries (UK, USA, etc) on the other hand is totally different. There have been improvements as time goes by but..... caution is the parent of safety !

    You'll have all the details needed to understand this case in the link I provided lately on another blog. But it's true that unless you can read French, you'll have to wait a little bit before I can post the translations. Sorry for the delay !

    # More precisely, on administrative grounds, not even one single religion is official in France but that's not the point of this post.
    * Islam is considered as an accepted religion in France whereas countless cases of religious intolerance are carried out by Muslims every year. Interestingly, much, much less as for the JWs.
     
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    06 octobre 2011

    L’Etat devra-t-il verser 4,5 millions d’euros aux Témoins de Jéhovah ?

    Nul ne sait quelle sera l’issue des négociations, mais le fait même que le gouvernement français se soit résolu à négocier avec l’association des Témoins de Jéhovah, pour régler un contentieux fiscal vieux de quinze ans, a des allures de victoire pour le mouvement religieux.

    Le gouvernement avait jusqu’au 30 septembre pour demander un renvoi de ce dossier devant la grande chambre de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH). Il y a renoncé, ouvrant la voie à des négociations, dont l’issue devra être présentée à la CEDH dans les trois mois.

    En juin (lire l'article paru dans Le Monde du 2 juillet 2011, (Edit: broken link)), après des années de procédures, la CEDH avait reconnu que le gouvernement français avait violé l'article 9 de la Convention européenne sur la liberté religieuse, dans ce dossier de redressement fiscal, dont le montant s’élève aujourd’hui, avec les pénalités, à 57,5 millions d’euros. Après l’inscription des TJ sur la liste des sectes établi en 1995 par un rapport parlementaire, jugé depuis caduque, l'association avait en effet fait l'objet de contrôles fiscaux, entraînant une taxation des « dons manuels » - les offrandes des fidèles -. Le contentieux devant la CEDH portait sur la question de savoir si ces offrandes devaient ou non bénéficier de l'exonération fiscale qui prévaut pour les dons et legs faits aux associations cultuelles. La cour a reconnu dans son arrêt que l'article du code général des impôts, invoqué pour la taxation, n'était ni assez « précis » ni assez « prévisible ».

    [​IMG]
    Le siège français des témoins
    de Jehovah, à Louviers (Eure)

    Les négociations qui vont s’ouvrir devraient porter sur plusieurs points : la mainlevée des hypothèques judiciaires portant sur tous les biens immobiliers de l’association, le remboursement des sommes saisies sur ses comptes bancaires (4,5 millions d’euros) et l’annulation définitive du redressement fiscal. Les Témoins de Jéhovah pourraient aussi demander des dommages pour préjudice moral. L’association, qui estime être «harcelée» depuis 1995 par les organismes de lutte anti-sectes mis en place par les gouvernements successifs, (aujourd’hui la Mission de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires, Miviludes) et par plusieurs députés engagés sur ces questions, espère en outre que cet épisode judiciaire mettra un terme aux mises en cause publiques dont elle est régulièrement l’objet. La Miviludes considère toujours problématique le refus de transfusion sanguine des Témoins de Jéhovah.

    Georges Fenech, président de la Miviludes, qui souhaitait que le gouvernement renvoie l’affaire devant la grande chambre de la CEDH, nous a indiqué « prendre acte des satisfactions judiciaires » obtenues par les TJ ces dernières années. « Il faut désormais tirer les conséquences de l’arrêt de la CEDH et avoir des procédures fiscales irréprochables à l’égard de ces organisations ».

    Aujourd’hui, reste à régler la question des aumôniers de prison, que réclament les Témoins de Jéhovah pour répondre aux besoins de la centaine de ses fidèles actuellement incarcérés. Après plusieurs refus du ministère de la justice (lire l'article paru dans Le Monde du 1er juin 2011, (Edit: broken link)) de leur ouvrir cette possibilité, la décision est désormais entre les mains du Conseil d’Etat.

    Quoted from here.
     

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