Jewish minority forced to flee homes by hostile villagers

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Around 200 members of the Lev Tahor community, who practice an strict form of Judaism, have fled their homes in San Juan village near Guatemala city.

They say they have been persecuted for their beliefs and claim San Juan village elders threatened to cut water and electricity if they didn’t leave town.

But leaders of the indigenous elders’ council said the Lev Tahor group was expelled because its members refused to have contact with the community.

“This attitude that they have taken against us, to accuse us of something we didn’t do,” said Misael Santos, a spokesperson for the ultra-Orthodox Jewish group.

“Legally we, as Guatemalans, who are the majority here .. and also foreigners have the right to live where we want to live. Let’s respect the country’s laws,” said Santos.

The small community arrived just five months ago from Canada where they clashed with authorities.

According to Canda’s CBC, the group had been accused of keeping children in unsanitary conditions while living there, promoting underage marriage and physical abuse.

Leaders of the group dismissed the allegations and said the members of Lev Tahor were being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

The group rejects the state of Israel because they say it views Jews as a people in exile, so they are hoping to find somewhere else to settle in Guatemala.

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