PARIS, Jan 16 (Reuter) - Film director Constantin Costa- Gavras
said on Thursday he had erred in signing an open letter to Chancellor
Helmut Kohl comparing Germany's treatment of Scientologists to Nazi
persecution of the Jews.
In a statement issued by his Paris office, the Franco-Greek film director said he had not read the letter caerfully before signing it at the request of Hollywood star Dustin Hoffman, a friend.
The letter was signed by 34 entertainment industry figures including Hollywood star Goldie Hawn, director Oliver Stone and writer Mario Puzo.
"Only after a careful reading (of the letter) did I realise my error -- Not that I had defended the principle of civil liberties, which was my sole motive for signing, but that I may have led anyone to believe it was possible to make a comparison between the discriminatory measures taken by modern Germany and the abominable laws of yesteryear which led to the holocaust," Gavras said in his statement.
However he did say he wanted clarification of the German authorities' attitude toward the church.
In their letter, printed as a full-page advertisement in the Paris-based International Herald Tribune, the Hollywood figures called on Kohl to bring "an end to this shameful pattern of organised persecution" of church members, which it compared with Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews in the 1930s.
The letter writers said they were not members of the Church of Scientology but were deeply concerned that Germany, and Kohl's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in particular, had organised boycotts of entertainers such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Chick Corea because of their religious beliefs.
Kohl later dismissed the letter as "rubbish."