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Scientology may be monitored in Berlin

BERLIN, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Members from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party are seeking to put the Church of Scientology under surveillance in Berlin.

The local Christian Democratic Party's attempt, which some observers say is justified, comes as the church plans to open its new six-storey headquarters in the German capital.

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The new center is part of a campaign to "'scientologize' Europe once and for all," Ursula Caberta, who heads a Hamburg state government group that studies Scientology, told Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel newspaper. "They want to influence politics. We have to take that very seriously."

Caberta added she feared that "Scientologists from all over Europe will meet together in the new Berlin center."

Germany's top security chief, Interior Minister Ehrhart Koerting, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper he was willing to monitor the organization if it proved to act anti-constitutionally, which it hadn't so far, he said.

In the rest of Germany, Scientology is surveyed for what the government feels are anti-democratic tendencies.

The 43,000-square feet religious center is located in the upscale Berlin district of Charlottenburg, home to lavish shopping boutiques and designer hotels. The group is expecting between 5,000 and 10,000 guests at the official opening Saturday, Spiegel Online said.

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The sect is greatly expanding and has attracted a record number of new members in 2006.

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