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Multiculturalism fails in Guatemalan village


Six years after members of a hardline Orthodox Jewish sect began moving to a Mayan village in Guatemala, they are moving out. Both Orthodox Jews and Mayans accuse each other of trying to impose each other’s culture on the other group and of threats and intimidation.

Members of the Orthodox sect are now looking to buy land so the community can live in isolation.

And so the quest for a perfect multicultural society continues…

From Reuters…

A few months after moving from Canada to a remote part of Guatemala to find religious freedom, a group of ultra orthodox Jews have been forced out of their homes in a bitter conflict with hostile villagers.

The Lev Tahor community packed its bags on Friday in San Juan la Laguna around 150 km (93 miles) west of Guatemala City, to board buses bound for the capital after weeks of friction with sections of the local population.

Verbal abuse, threats to cut off power and eject them by force were the last straw for the Jews who began arriving in March from Canada, where the Lev Tahor group’s strict religious ways had clashed with authorities.

According to Goldman, a council of elders in San Juan issued an ultimatum to the Lev Tahor, saying water and electricity would be cut off if they did not leave. “They also warned us they would remove us from the village by force,” he added.

Miguel Vasquez Cholotio, a member of the elders’ council, said the villagers decided to expel the group because they refused to greet or have physical contact with the community.

“We felt intimidated by them in the streets. We thought they wanted to change our religion and customs,” he said.

Eschewing technological trappings such as television and computers, daily life among the Lev Tahor, whose women wear body cloaks similar to a burqa, is steeped in religion.

Rejecting the state of Israel because it views the Jews as a people in exile, the Lev Tahor hope to find land elsewhere in Guatemala to build 30 houses to resettle the 200-odd strong community, Goldman said.

Around 60 members of the group left San Juan during the night with the rest set to follow.

In Canada, critics and some relatives of Lev Tahor members accused the group of keeping children in unsanitary conditions, promoting underage marriage and of physical abuse.

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


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