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‘Jewish Taliban’ leave Guatemala village

Members of the Lev Tahor community have been voted out by the town’s Elders Council

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A community of ultra-Orthodox Jews, dubbed as the “Jewish Taliban” by Israeli media, began leaving a village in western Guatemala after being accused of shunning other villagers and imposing their strict religious customs, the BBC reported on Saturday.

Members of the Lev Tahor community had settled to the village of San Juan La Laguna six years ago but began to move again after the town’s elders voted to kick them out, the Associated Press reported.

The town’s Elders Council claimed that some of the 320-members community had mistreated other residents and tourists in the lakeside village.

“We are a people of peace and in order to avoid an incident we’ve already begun to leave,” Lev Tahor member Misael Santos told Agence-France Presse.

Most members of the community come from the U.S., Israel Russia and the UK, while around 40 of them are Guatemalan. Almost half are children, according to AFP.

“We act in self-defense and to respect our rights as indigenous people. The [Guatemalan] constitution protects us because we need to conserve and preserve our culture,” council spokesman Miguel Vasquez said.

The controversial community is strict with its religious customs. It imposes strict gender segregation, and believes Israel should not exist before the arrival of the Masiyah.