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The Church of Scientology has backed down from its plan to set up a recruiting stall at a shopping center in Leith, Scotland.

The group had applied for a street traders’ license for a booth in the New Kirkgate Centre, reports Sue Gyford for the Edinburgh Evening News. The application had generated a firestorm of protest from local residents, the area’s community council and from Leith Councillor Gordon Munro, who vowed to stop the group promoting what he called “its nonsense” in the shopping centre.

“After the application was publicized,” writes Gyford, “the Scientologists received a letter threatening to set fire to their Edinburgh office, which was investigated by police. Scientology public affairs director Graeme Wilson confirmed that the group had now withdrawn its application.”

She reports:

He said: “The purpose of our activities is to give help to the community so we of course took on board concerns about keeping the area as a clearway for pedestrians. There are no plans at this point for doing something similar elsewhere.”

Munro said that he had received notification from council officers that the application had been withdrawn, followed by a letter from the Scientologists themselves confirming their decision.

He said: “They were saying they’ve decided to withdraw their application after consultation with roads department and with local shopkeepers and residents.”

The group said at the time of its application that it wanted to use the stall to carry out “stress tests” and related activities with passers-by.

Earlier this year Scientology spokesman Gordon Reid joined an anti-drugs protest at the shopping center by a group of young mothers, who used material from the Scientology-backed Drug Free World campaign – although the group said it was not directly affiliated with the Scientologists.

Munro said he thought the proposed stall was likely to have acted as a stepping stone to controversial courses and books offered by the Scientologists for a charge, and he was not convinced that the proposed stand would be have been used purely to help those in need.

“I think the reason for the application was not based on tackling the drug problem. It was more to do with fundraising for their organisation,” he said.

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