Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pakistani wins fight to register as a Jew

Back in 2014 Point of No Return began following Fishel Benkhald's struggle to be Pakistan's last self-identifying Jew : we are pleased to report that the authorities, reversing their 2015 decision,  have now finally agreed to have the word 'Jew' appear on his national identity card and passport. NDTV reports:

Fishel Benkhald: Muslim father, Jewish mother

Islamabad:  Pakistan has allowed a 29-year-old Jewish activist to change his religion from Islam to Judaism, an unusual move by authorities in the country. In normal circumstances, it would have been a normal practice to let Fishel Benkhald get religion of his choice in the column of religion for the forms filled to get national identity card and passport.

But it was a task for Benkhald as he was registered as a Muslim, and it could be interpreted as apostasy. The ministry of interior in Pakistan has recently given the green light in response to Benkhald's application where he had sought 'conversion/correction' of his religion from Islam to Judaism in his national identity documents, the Express Tribune reported.

In the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Benkhald is registered as a Muslim. Faisal, as he is known in his current identity documents, was born to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother in Karachi in 1987. He was registered as a Muslim due to his father's religion.

However, he made an appeal to the NADRA to allow him to return to the religion of his choice, Judaism, by correcting it in a smart ID card he had applied for last year.

NADRA, which was in a fix over the issue, had asked for the interior ministry's opinion to correct the religion of a former Muslim, a ministry source was quoted as saying by the daily.

In its response, the ministry said in writing that "the applicant may be allowed to practice religion of (his) choosing and preference".

NADRA usually turns down such requests, especially from Muslims to any other faith, due to the sensitive religious atmosphere in the country. Although the interior ministry has given the green signal, NADRA has yet to issue a smart card after correcting Benkhald's religion.

A document available with daily suggests that correspondence between the ministry of interior and NADRA over the issue had taken place in February-March 2017.

Benkhald thanked the authorities, especially the interior ministry and NADRA, for granting him the right to profess religion of his choice, the report said.

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