UFO Movement Seeks Cambodian Converts

The Raelians have arrived in Cambodia.

Dressed in signature white pa­jamas and matching white sneakers, Lee Ki-Tae a senior Raelian of­ficial, explained his movement to a gath­ering of some 60 Cam­bodians at a Phnom Penh hotel Sa­turday evening.

“If you look into the sky, you too will see the UFOs,” the South Ko­­rean told his audience. “We must es­tablish peace on earth…and build an embassy in Je­­ru­salem, otherwise the aliens will not come back.”

The International Raelian Move­­ment was founded in 1973 by French journalist Claude Vor­il­hon, who subsequently changed his name to Rael. Rael claims that in 1973, he was visited by an alien race called the Elohim.

Raelians be­lieve that the Elohim explained the secrets of ex­ist­ence to Rael and made him their ambassador on earth. The mis­sion of the group, which many describe as a cult, is to foster peace and harmony by spread­ing those revelations.

The group claims to now have 35,000 members worldwide.

“I was concerned that there are no Raelians in Cambodia, so I decided to come here,” Lee Ki-Tae said after Saturday’s meeting, add­ing that he has made four trips to Cambodia since 2005.

Vichet Am, a Raelian and project manager at the NGO Care, said the group is now seeking per­­mission from the Interior Ministry to open offices here.

Vichet Am said his parents were in­itially surprised by his new beliefs. “They were concerned that it is not compatible with Buddhism, but they accept that I have freedom to believe what I want to be­lieve,” he said.

Restaurant worker Pham Anan, a 25-year-old Raelian, said the group has 10 members in Cam­bodia.

“I am a seeker of wisdom,” she said. “This is not a religion, it is an or­ganization.” She said the movement has made her more aware of the power of technology and science to improve human lives.

Several audience members voiced skepticism after the presentation.

“Scientists in America have so much money and they have not discovered UFOs—why have you?” one student asked.

“Just look into the sky and you will see the UFOs,” Lee Ki-Tae replied.

Som Leung Ny, 55, the director of the Preah Vihear provincial de­partment of industry, also voiced doubt. “I have been interested in UFOs for a long time, but I am not convinced,” he said.

Sun Kim Hun, secretary of state at the Ministry of Cults and Re­­ligion, said Monday that people can disseminate any religion in Cambodia as long as it does not affect Buddhism or morality.

“This group is strange,” he said, adding that the ministry will mon­itor its activities in Cambodia.

   (Additional reporting by Yun Samean)


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