Egypt detains two people for promoting ScientologyPublication date: 2002-02-26
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CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- A Cairo court has prolonged the detention of a Palestinian woman and her Israeli husband suspected of ``contempt of religion'' by promoting Scientology in the country, Egypt's Middle East News Agency reported Tuesday.
Wafaa Hassan Ahmed, 26, and Mahmoud Mufid Masarwa, 28, have confessed to being assigned by their followers in Tel Aviv and Rome to promote Scientology in Egypt as ``a pivotal country in the region that would ease its spread to neighboring countries,'' MENA reported.
The agency referred to Scientology as a religious belief that ``defames Islam and Christianity and calls for disobeying their teachings.''
It wasn't clear when the couple was arrested. No officials were available for comment Tuesday.
The Church of Scientology, which claims 8 million members worldwide, was founded in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. It teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems.
According to MENA, Ahmed confessed to being chosen for her mission because she is Palestinian and hoped to draw sympathy from Egyptians because of Palestinian-Israeli violence.
MENA said she also confessed to selling copies of Hubbard's book ``Dianetics,'' which outlines the teaching's ideology, during the 2001 Cairo Book Fair.
Scientology followers have come under attack in various parts in the world, including Germany, where they are banned from public jobs. In the United States, however, the church, which counts actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its members, has been granted a tax-free status as a religion since 1993. rr-hhr
The Associated Press News Service Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press All Rights Reserved
The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Publication date: 2002-02-26
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