Is Pakistan’s ‘first official Jew in decades’ really Jewish?
THE NEWS that Pakistan had allowed a citizen to register as Jewish for the first time in decades took a bizarre twist this week when his brother gave an interview saying the man’s claims about his “true” identity had been invented.
Fischel Benkhald, who hit the headlines in 2015 when he “outed” himself as Jewish, was last week permitted by Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority to change his religious status.
But Mr Benkhald’s brother, Mohammed Iqbal, told the Daily Pakistan newspaper: “I’m his elder brother working in Saudi Arabia, would like to let you know that he is 100 per cent lying.
“Alhamdulillah [praise the Lord] our parents both were Muslims and together performed Haj [the pilgrimage to Mecca] before their death.
“My mother’s father was a Rajput Punjabi and her mother was a Syed Muslim, she never migrated from Iran like Faisal says.”
In his original application to the Pakistani Interior Ministry, Mr Benkhald said that he had been born in Karachi to a Jewish mother and Muslim father, the fourth of five children.
Mr Benkhald, who is 29, claimed he grew up reciting blessings over Shabbat candles and watching his mother make challah every Friday.
Mr Iqbal said he believed his brother was suffering from mental health issues.