Unification News for September 2002
Berlin Rally Against True Parents Entry Ban
by Fritz Piepenburg
The first people gathered already at 8 AM on 7th, 2002 at the assembly site just in front of the Reichstag in Berlin on a sunny Saturday morning. The police also came early. But they came to escort and protect the demonstration, since we received an official permission from the city council and the Ministry of Interior. We were moving on perfect legal grounds. The young police officers cooperated well with us and details about the course of the march were clarified beforehand.
Our members were busy preparing over 50 large signboards with slogans, such as "lift the entry ban for Rev. Moon" and "equal treatment for all churches" etc. The boards were written in German, English and even Japanese. A group of African brothers filled hundreds of balloons with Helium gas. They had the writing "lift the ban" on them and were later to be released into the air. There were also several oversized colored pictures of True Parents together with Gorbachev and the late President Bush. Many flags with the Unification Symbol printed in red were also passed out.
By 10 o’clock the alley where the formation of the demonstration took place was bustling with activities. More and more busses came from the 10 different city centers of the German Unification church, unloading young and old, many times entire families with baby carts.
Neighboring European countries too sent their people. Austria came with 120 people, Slovakia with 70 people. Other busses came from Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Holland, Belgium Denmark and France. Altogether some 700 members and friends of the Unification Church gathered on the starting place, lining up behind a 6 x 1,20 m banner bearing the slogan of the march. Some 1000 four-colored folders about the peace activities of Rev. and Mrs. Moon were handed out to distributors, along with 3000 flyers demanding directly from the German Minister of Interior Otto Schily to lift the entry ban. Whistles were given especially to the children (which they made immediate use of).
March and rally
Then, exactly at 11:00 AM the march began. In front the police car, stopping all the traffic and clearing the way for us. We had three slogans prepared which we chanted all the way till our final destination where the rally was to be held. One was in English: "Lift the ban on Rev. Moon!" The other two were in German: "Wir versöhnen Religionen – Schily mach mit" (we unify religions, Schily won’t you join us). "Große Kirchen, kleine Kirchen – gleiches Recht für alle" (big churches, small churches – equal rights for all).
From the Reichstag (which is the German parliament) we went through the historic Brandenburg Gate and along the famous street "Unter den Linden" till moving right into the Friedrichstraße. From there we marched one time around the Ministry of Youth and Families, which is the Ministry that gives us as a religious minority the greatest troubles. Some windows opened and heads were to be seen watching us. Because the street around the ministry was rather narrow and surrounded by large buildings, the shouting and whistling became especially loud and piercing. In between and while arriving at the Gendarmen Markt we sang "We shall overcome", which added to the solemn and festive atmosphere.
When we arrived at the Gendarmen Markt, a highly professional band, which came all the way from England, already plaid their first tune to which we all sang along. The Gendarmen Markt is a beautifully located place surrounded by tall buildings with a classic architecture. Just opposite of the stage, steps where leading up to a theater and there the large banner and all the posters were placed and could be well seen by all people passing by on foot or on board of large tourist busses. A second band, made up of Second Generation children from Düsseldorf also played familiar tones and took turns with the band from England. A press table offered background information and relevant books on the discriminatory policies of the main churches and the government towards religious minorities. A large quantity of literature was handed out.
The event was moderated by Karl-Christian Hausmann, the national leader of Germany. He explained much of the background leading to the entry ban. When he stated that even though Minister of Interior Schily had made some grave errors, but we members of the Unification Church still love him, even the watching policemen smiled.
First speaker was Michael Herbers, the American National Messiah to Germany. He told the audience that while all his ancestors are Germans and he himself feels like 100% German, he also feels that little has changed from the time his great-great-grandfather had left Germany some 115 years ago in terms of religious freedom. The religious field is still dominated by the two traditional churches, which act like state churches and view new religious groups as unwelcome competitors.
Peter Zöhrer, regional director of the Central Region of Europe, presented an appeal to the German governments consisting of nine points, which are also supported by other minority faiths. He asked the government to delete the word "sect" from its vocabulary completely and instead talk about minority religions. The government has to stay neutral in questions of faith and doctrine and cannot give privileges to one church (like the established ones) and discriminate against others (the new ones). Government sponsored schools should stop spreading false propaganda against minority religions and instead create a climate of tolerance and mutual respect.
President Sa, President of the European Unification Church was the next speaker. He expressed his anger about the entry ban and asked the government to rethink its policy. Many people seem to be afraid of Rev. Moon in Germany and Europe, according to his words, but only the bad people need to be afraid of Rev. Moon, the good ones have nothing to fear about. – He was finally followed by Paul Frank, a former judge at the Supreme Court of Luxembourg and long standing member of the church. He put the entry ban into the European context and stressed the fact that because of Germany’s listing of True Parents on the Schengen list, they are prohibited to enter all other Schengen countries as well, which include all member countries of the European Union with the exception of England and Ireland.
All throughout the rally, people could sign a petition at the press table which will be given to Minister Schily, demanding the lifting of the entry ban. After the last speaker had come to an end, the band played the significant Beatle’s song "Hey Jude, don’t make it bad". Then the moderator asked everybody to release their balloons. Up they went into the blue sky beyond the domes of the nearby churches. The spirit was high and hopeful as we watched the balloons disappear high above. There was more music and lively chatting among the participants, some of which haven’t seen each other for many years.
President Sa later remarked two important points that characterized the event: first it was a unified European undertaking, with many European nations joining in. Second it was the beginning point for a more aggressive tackling of the Schengen ban by our German church and other European churches together.
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