by Ernst-Gerhardt Scholz
What's good for Clinton is not good for Minton. Both have received a Charlemagne Award.
Bill the President received the international award and Bob the Banker received the alternative award. The former from the hands of Aachen Mayor Juergen Linden, the latter one day later in Leipzig from Ursula Caberta.
To keep things in perspective, this Alternative Charlemagne Award has something to do with Scientology. Not only that, but Caberta is the Director of the Hamburg Interior Agency's work group which is involved exclusively with that controversial organization.
At the same time, she is also a prominent member of the "European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA" which is backing this award. And why, of all people, to Robert S. Minton, who people call "Bob"? Answer: because the Scientologists obviously see someone who has grown into an opponent who is to be taken seriously in this U.S. millionaire businessman. From his perspective, Scientology's being a "totalitarian movement," thereby "working against democracy," appears to be less momentous than the fact that he has to carry on his battle against Scientology in the USA himself. Over there virtually limitless tolerance is applied to all possible movements, religious or otherwise.
Scientologists have had to live with the resistance from Germany for years. The success of the information campaigns of sect commissioners and - not least of all - Ursula Caberta can be measured not only by the number of people leaving Scientology, but also by the organization's apparently poor financial situation. "They are practically bankrupt and can only keep their heads above water with financial injections from the USA," said Caberta recently at an Interior Agency press conference in which Bob Minton also lambasted the image presented by Scientology of "peace, joy and cupcakes." He said that Scientology was anything but a church, was cynical and would destroy anyone who got in its way.
After Minton said that, it rained Scientology press releases and a flood of open letters was directed at the Interior Agency. All with one goal: to discredit Minton and Caberta with him. That is one of the methods which Scientology has for handling discussion.
For instance, Minton was accused of being an "unscrupulous money-grubber" who "personally lined his pockets with several tens of millions of dollars under the regime of the former military dictatorship in Nigeria - while the population starved."
Kurt Weiland, chief of Scientology's intelligence agency, which they call "Office for Special Affairs (OSA)," did not let the opportunity slip to write Hamburg Interior Senator Hartmuth Wrocklage from Los Angeles and demand that Caberta be dismissed. He said that what she was doing was a "continuation of the Inquisition"; he said she hunted people down, destroyed their existence and was bringing shame, not only upon Hamburg, but upon all of Germany. He said that Caberta, who "gave con-men like Robert Minton the seal of approval from the Hamburg Interior Agency" was "out of place."
Minton does not dispute having discretely and for a profit bought back, with a partner, $4.5 billion of foreign debt on commission of the Nigerian administration. Nor that they made a profit with a nominal value of 1 percent ($45 million).
What he does not agree with are: the numbers being cited far in excess of that, assertions that anything was fraudulent, that he is being investigated in any way, that bank accounts have been closed or that he profited from oil prices which rose during the Gulf War. He will do in Germany what he has already done in France - sue Scientology for slander.
All that, however, is only coincidental to the members and supporters of the Alternative Charlemagne Award committee. For them, only one thing counts: Bob Minton is better suited than Bill Clinton for being publicly recognized for supporting freedom of opinion and a democratic life-style. Specifically, they disagree with Clinton's "liberal" attitude towards Scientology.
Ursula Caberta also finds that the President, in the twilight of his term, "gives the impression" of being a "Scientology puppet." Bob Minton, on the other hand, was said not to share the President's "strange predilection."
Seen that way, the Scientologists' excitement is understandable.