POLICE HAVE been accused of “trampling on basic rights” after ordering protesters to take down banners accusing Scientology of being a cult.
Officers banned the placards during a demonstration against the self-styled church in Glasgow city centre last weekend. Civil liberties campaigners have warned a dangerous precedent is being set for the suppression of free speech.
Strathclyde Police’s intervention follows a similar incident in London last month when a youth was left facing prosecution. The 15-year-old had refused to remove a sign stating “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult”.
Human rights lawyer John Scott claimed the episodes suggested the church was receiving preferential treatment.
He said: “Scientology is a wealthy organisation with pretty influential people involved. But that doesn’t mean it’s entitled to any more protection from the police – though it does appear that is the reality of the situation.
“This latest incident sets a dangerous precedent and I hope the police do not have to be taken to court for them to accept the right of free speech.”
Of course, the real problem is that the Police are being put in this position by politicians seeking to create tranquility and harmony with the blunt tool of legislation.