Published on 23 Dec. 2021 at 10 : 33
The Church of Scientology will finally be able to settle in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis). The administrative justice confirmed on 21 September on appeal the cancellation of a municipal decree which prevented the installation in the city of the cult training center, qualified as a “sectarian movement” by a report of the Commission of Inquiry on Sects dating from 1950.
The movement, supported by figures like actor Tom Cruise , was founded in 1950 in the USA. He is at the head of a real estate empire across the Atlantic, and has even obtained the status of Church there, which allows him to be exempt from taxes. In France, the principle of secularism prevents it from being officially recognized as a Church or sect. It operates legally in the territory in the form of a law association 270. However, the movement was sentenced in 2013 for fraud by an organized gang .
A four-year standoff
In 2017, the movement acquires for 23 million euros, via the real estate company Building Investment Group, a building located at 33 avenue of President Wilson, in Saint-Denis, which previously housed the premises of the Panasonic company.
The objective is to convert the building into a training center. But in 2019, the former mayor of the city issued an order preventing the installation of this center, citing in particular shortcomings in terms of fire safety and accessibility for people with disabilities.
Contesting this decision, the company had obtained in October 2020 the annulment of this disputed order by the administrative court of Montreuil, a decision confirmed by the administrative court call from Paris.
“Misuse of power”
The court is based on public declarations of elected officials of Saint-Denis indicating their hostility to the project and the renewed requests of the administration during the investigation of the file, and considered that the refusal of prohibition of works falls under a ” misuse of power ”on the part of the municipality. In other words, the town hall of Saint-Denis is accused of having used security and accessibility as pretexts to prohibit the company from converting the building into a Scientology training center.
Justice therefore ordered the city of Saint-Denis , now headed by the mayor PS Mathieu Hanotin, to reexamine under three month the work authorization request. Contacted, the town hall did not wish to comment on the subject.