700 Raelian followers to go on hunger strike

More than 700 Asian followers of the Raelian movement will launch a collective hunger strike in Seoul tomorrow, in protest of the Korean government's recent decision to deny entry to the leader of their religious sect devoted to human cloning, its Korea chapter said yesterday.

"We will fight with nonviolent measures until the government makes a fair decision to guarantee religious freedom and lift the entry ban for Vorilhon," said a spokesman of its Korea chapter.

Its leader and founder Claude Vorilhon was turned away after arriving at Incheon International Airport on Aug. 2 from Canada where he currently resides.

The Seoul government feared "social confusion" by their engagement in human-cloning activities during his stay. The Raelian movement believes life on Earth was created by clones of extraterrestrials.

Calling himself Rael, the French native was scheduled to attend a seminar for its Korean and other Asian members who convened in Korea.

Instead, Vorilhon gave a video conference lecture yesterday via the Internet at a Seoul movie theater.

In 1997, Vorilhon launched Clonaid, the first human cloning company, which claimed last year that it had cloned a baby girl using a Korean woman's embryo. The claim has yet to be confirmed.