Jewish community 'forced out' of Guatemala village

Guatemala City - A community of 230 Orthodox Jews from several countries on Thursday began leaving the Guatemalan Indian village where they have lived for six years after claims and counterclaims of discrimination and threats.

Their exit from San Juan La Laguna, on the banks of Lake Atitlan and 200km from the capital Guatemala City, follows a meeting on Wednesday in which Jewish and indigenous representatives failed to reach an agreement.

"We are a people of peace and in order to avoid an incident we've already begun to leave the village," Misael Santos, a representative from the Jewish community, told AFP.

They had received threats, Santos said.

"We have a right to be there, but they threatened us with lynching if we don't leave the village," he added.

Most members of the small Jewish community are from the United States, Israel, Britain and Russia, and around 40 are Guatemalan. Approximately half are children.

Since October, the local indigenous population has accused the Orthodox Jews of discriminating against them and of violating Mayan customs.

The Council of Indigenous Elders said the Jewish community "wanted to impose their religion" and was undermining the Catholic faith that is predominant in the village.

"We act in self-defence and to respect our rights as indigenous people. The [Guatemalan] constitution protects us because we need to conserve and preserve our culture," council spokesperson Miguel Vasquez told AFP.

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Dave Parker 2014/08/29 06:34:16 AM
If this had been muslims instead of Jews we would have had the UN involved and all sorts of governmental and religious grovelling and interventions to make the muslims happy.
Andrew MacDonald 2014/08/29 07:45:51 AM
And this is why israel exists.
Saul Shauleen Mukwewa 2014/08/29 08:00:46 AM
Land issue....
Renegade 2014/08/29 08:08:39 AM
Good? They often impose their religion it is not only the Muslims that do this. Always pointing the finger remember how many are pointing back
Ameenah Teixeira Jacobs 2014/08/29 08:17:39 AM
Did this lot get lost on the way to the promised land?
Makhulu Zulu 2014/08/29 08:31:22 AM
Tasneem. You hit the nail on the head. Also ... if it were muslims kicking them out, they would have said where ever there are muslims theres trouble.
Yazeed Isaacs 2014/08/29 08:34:53 AM
"We are a people of peace..." Lol. The irony.
Will Homeby 2014/08/29 08:37:58 AM
Thats just amazing. Wonder if these illegal squatters made a special pact with God. Was this land promised to them as well?
Thabo Solomon 2014/08/29 08:40:44 AM
Where are there elements of Religious Freedom and Religious Experission ,as full devoted Christian i feel so ashamed how other nations still got the toxic attitude of depriving other people Human Rights! Well i don't think Moharmad Garndi spirit would be proud of the Indian government sturbbon decisions!!!
irshaad.essa 2014/08/29 08:45:30 AM
Here we go again, they are settling all over the place. Why does it need to be 'the jews' or the 'the muslims'. Why do they need to move in packs. Why don't they live where they were born or move their families where they need to be like the rest of the world. Why do they need to move in packs, take over a land and create friction. If there is no indication that they will occupy their land and bomb them out like they did to the Palestinians, there shouldn't be kicked out, but I guess it's the same promise israel made. Anyway, I guess it's not just the muslims, what a turn of events. There must be a way to blame the muslims, let's wait for it.