|The main hall of the Scientology center in port city of Jaffa Tel Aviv, Israel.|
The Church of Scientology has apparently found one place where its presence doesn't set off alarms, protests and demonstrations, and that place is one of the world's most religiously fraught countries, Israel.
In August, Scientology opened a gleaming new headquarters in the ancient port city of Jaffa, part of Tel Aviv. Since then, visitors and the curious have streamed through with no incidents.
And this in a country where Jews and Muslims harbor clashing claims over the same holy sites, sometimes sparking violence, and competing Jewish streams disparage each other openly and often.
Scientology has confronted charges in many countries that it is a dangerous cult that brainwashes its followers and confiscates their assets. Its leaders deny that....
Germany, France and Russia are among the governments that keep a close eye on Scientology, and court cases have been filed against the church in some places.
In contrast, there hasn't been much public opposition in Israel.
While a 1987 Israeli parliamentary commission declared it a cult, the practice of Scientology in Israel is legal. The new headquarters has some 200 staff and claims to serve thousands. -- Lauren E. Bohn, The Associated Press via the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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