Pakistani man registered as Jewish for first time in decades


Pakistan has allowed a citizen to register as Jewish for the first time in decades.

Fischel Benkhald, from Karachi, is believed to be the first Pakistani citizen to declare his Jewish identity on official documents.

Mr Benkhald’s mother was Jewish but he was registered as Muslim at birth, due to his father’s religion.

When he applied to the National Database and Registration Authority to change his official religious status to Jewish, in 2015, he was ignored.

It was not until Wilson Chowdry, a Christian Pakistani ex-pat, campaigned for him, that he was told he would be issued a new ID card, by officials.

Mr Chowdry told the Express Tribune, a Pakistani English-language newspaper, the move was “ground-breaking”.

He said: “The NADRA usually turns down such requests, especially from Muslims to any other faith, due to the sensitive religious atmosphere in the country.”

Pakistan’s population is estimated to be between 95 and 98 per cent Muslim, with Sunni Muslims composing the majority.

And although it is believed hundreds of Jews self-identify on national censuses, none are registered as or identified as such on their ID cards or passports.

It is understood Pakistani Jews usually hide their identity from the public and their information, such as addresses are treated as top secret, by authorities.


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