Tehran – Lev Tahor, a fringe haredi Orthodox sect, requested political asylum from the Iranian government.
In its request, the group “declared their loyalty and submission to the Supreme Leader and Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” It asks for “asylum, protection and religious freedom of the families of its loyal members,” and also calls for “cooperation and help to counter Zionist dominance in order to peacefully liberate the Holy Land and the Jewish nation.”
The request was part of a batch of documents filed in U.S. Federal Court last week ahead of trials against five Lev Tahor members on charges of kidnapping, child abuse and identity theft.
Lev Tahor, which has about 230 members, relocated to Guatemala from Canada in 2014 following allegations of mistreatment of its children including abuse and child marriages.
Arranged marriages between teenagers and older cult members are reported to be common. The group shuns technology and its female members wear black robes from head to toe, leaving only their faces exposed.