The Church of Scientology in New Zealand has laid a complaint with police after allegedly receiving death and bomb threats from an internet-based protest group that has waged an online war against the religion.
The group, calling itself Anonymous, held a worldwide action day yesterday, with about 20 people gathering at Britomart in downtown Auckland and in other centres, handing out fliers attacking Scientology as a dangerous cult "that scams members with pseudo science".
The project was started in response to the Church of Scientology's attempts in January to remove a YouTube video featuring actor Tom Cruise.
Anonymous has accused the church of "internet censorship" and has threatened to "expel the church from the internet".
New Zealand activists have for the past two weeks been posting messages on an anti-Scientology site, Enturbulation.org, discussing ways of exposing the local church's involvement in a controversial drug rehabilitation programme called Narconon.
Mike Ferriss, spokesman for Scientology in New Zealand, said those involved in the protests were extremists and police had been alerted to the threats. Scientology in the US has posted a video on YouTube alleging a series of threats and harassing phone calls by Anonymous since January.
A New Zealander involved with Anonymous said the movement, which had no leaders, was peaceful, and any threats were from individuals whose actions were not endorsed.
- Sunday Star Times