Pressure in the "psycho-corner"

Controversial Scientology publisher at Leipzig's book fair

Leipzig, Germany
March 29, 2000 Leipziger Volkszeitung Online

The Leipzig book fair, freshly spoiled by success, is facing a loss of image. Many exhibitors are annoyed over the presence of the controversial Scientologists who - garbed as New Era Publications - are praising their publications in fair hall 2 and targeting young fair visitors. An annoyance which Ulrike Philipp, especially, has been constantly registering. The student, working for a marketing research institute, is asking distributors how they would like the fair to be run. And while she was doing that, the Leipzig woman reports, "I was confronted with righteous rage." The neighboring stalls especially felt that they were unjustly being brought into discredit and impaired. "This is the psycho-corner here," said one youth before he turned away again. Several exhibitors, mainly women's and religious book distributors, even threatened not to come back next year if they saw New Era on the exhibition list again. The fair's management dismissed all accusations: Scientology was not prohibited and neither was it under observation by Constitutional Security, explained Peter Guth, district manager of "Buch-Kunst-Kultur," therefore the fair could not legally act. And press speaker Welf Zoeller verified: "We cannot forbid a publisher from presenting his books here." But, naturally, he was not "happy" with the situation, either. He said he had not yet heard anything about people not coming back next year. Boycotting the book fair is out of the question for "Aufbau" Publishers, the best-selling belletristic publisher in eastern Germany. "We are maintaining our involvement in the fair," said press spokeswoman Andrea Doberenz, and then added, "However, we have observed Scientology's appearance very skeptically." Then she walked down the infamous Aisle A in Hall 2. "Passersby were outright pressured there." The Scientologists were said to be accosting young people, primarily, in an "overly friendly and very offensive" manner. However, they were not showing up at other fair stalls.