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Scientologist software CEO lashes out against Germany

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- The Scientologist chief executive of a U.S.-based software firm has lambasted German authorities who demanded a portion of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 designed by his firm be removed because of his religion.

"The stench of religious intolerance is high among government officials in Germany," Craig Jensen, owner and CEO of California-based Executive Software International, said in a statement issued over the weekend.

Microsoft -- bowing to pressure over the Scientology link -- has said it will remove the part of the Windows 2000 operating system software that has generated the bad publicity -- a disk defragmenter that helps hard disks run more efficiently.

A Microsoft spokesman in Germany said on Friday the problem stems from the fact that "people and the media" in Germany became aware of the fact that the developer of the tool was Executive Software, whose CEO is a member of the Scientology Church.

"Since in Germany they are very, very sensitive with these things, they recommended not to use this tool," said spokesman for Microsoft in Germany Thomas Baumgaertner on Friday.

Germany does not recognize Scientology as a religion and describes the group as an unwelcome cult.

A German Interior Ministry information security expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, has said that some German officials and clergy have voiced fears that this part of the software "could have a security problem."

Jensen said Microsoft's move to uninstall the component defeats an important security mechanism designed to protect Windows 2000 from viruses, Internet hackers and other serious situations.

Jensen said in his statement that the product sweeps the boards with computer industry awards and overwhelming market share, adding that German consumers and corporations "love our products and our international sales -- as well as those in Germany -- are skyrocketing at record levels."

A spokesman for Executive Software has said that Jensen is a believer in Scientology, but his beliefs had no relevance to the company's products.

"American companies now face the possibility of being blacklisted and their products boycotted if the Germans decide they don't like the religion of their CEOs," Jensen said.

"German officials started by boycotting American movies featuring prominent artists who are Scientologists. Now their target is American computer software," Jensen said. "Next, it will be American cars, books, hardware, textiles, foodstuffs and so on."

California-based Church of Scientology was founded on the teachings of the late American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, and its members include several high-profile Hollywood film stars including Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



RELATED STORIES:
Microsoft claims 1 millionth Windows 2000 sale
March 17, 2000
Microsoft vows security commitment on Windows 2000
January 20, 2000
Microsoft partners reveal Win 2000 exploits
November 23, 1999
U.S. report backs Scientologists in dispute with Germany
January 30, 1997
U.S. to list Germany for abusing Scientologists
January 27, 1997

RELATED SITES:
Executive Software International
Microsoft
Scientology.com


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