The tiny southern French hamlet of Bugarach has drawn scrutiny from a government sect watchdog over droves of visitors who believe it is the only place in the world that will survive a 2012 Apocalypse.
A report by the watchdog, Miviludes, published on Wednesday said the picturesque village near Carcassonne should be monitored in the run-up to December 21, 2012, when many believe the world will end according to an ancient Mayan prophecy.
Miviludes was set up in 2002 to track the activity of sects, after a law passed the previous year made it an offense to abuse vulnerable people using heavy pressure techniques, meaning sects can be outlawed if there is evidence of fraud or abuse.
So many people in France believe that the world is about to end that a government agency today alerted the country to the risk of mass suicides by converts to prophesies of imminent Armageddon.
Natural disasters, the internet and French fears of economic doom are lending credence to predictions that the planet will self-destruct on December 21, 2012, said Miviludes, the government body that monitors cults and suspicious spiritual activities.
There have been 183 false predictions of the end of the world since the Roman Empire collapsed and these are multiplying with new technology and a global climate of fear, it added. [...]
The 2012 prediction, based on the end of the 5000-year Mayan calendar, has taken root around the world but nowhere does it seem to have been as widely embraced as France, The (London) Times reported.
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