'Anonymous' group declares online war on Scientology

A mysterious anti Church of Scientology group is using YouTube and other social networking sites to gather people for a day of action against the church this Sunday, February 10.

Known as "Anonymous", the group, which has a distinctly covert presence on the Internet, has released three videos on YouTube in the past fortnight that seek to discredit and quot;dismantlequot; the church. It also claimed responsibility in late January for the distributed denial of service attack on the Scientology Web site.

The attacks have largely been spurred by the Church's efforts to remove a video of movie star Tom Cruise professing his admiration for the religion.

In one of its videos, issued in early February, Anonymous tells viewers to be quot;very waryquot; of the 10th of February.

The video in part reads: "Anonymous invites you to join us in an act of solidarity. Anonymous invites you to take up the banner of free speech, of human rights, of family and freedom. Join us in protest outside of Scientology centers world wide. We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. We will be heard. Expect us."

The message has reached Australia.

A group known as Call To Action Scientology Protest, has emerged on Facebook urging people to mobilize in Hyde Park from 9am on Sunday. The park is just a short walk away from the Church of Scientology's Australian headquarters on Castlereagh Street in Sydney.

A further video posted on YouTube, titled Code of Conduct, offers a list of 22 rules for those intending to protest. The video urges the protest to be peaceful. It also encouraged protesters to cover their faces to prevent "your identification from hostiles".

A Church of Scientology Australia spokesperson said the Church was not willing to comment on the Sunday day of action.

Earlier this week the Church did issue an official statement regarding the Cruise video. It said the video excerpts were selective and out of context. "Those wishing to find out the Church of Scientology's views and to gain context of the video have the right to search official Church websites if they so desire."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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