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Extremist haredi Orthodox sect staying in Canada

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(JTA) — Members of an extremist haredi Orthodox sect who fled Quebec have settled in Ontario and are not planning a move to Iran, as reported previously.

The members of Lev Tahor, or Pure Heart, left their homes early last week out of fear that Canadian welfare authorities would take their children. The Canadian media reported over the weekend that the group of 200, including more than 130 children, would make its home in Chatham-Kent, a southwestern Ontario town of 108,000 several hundred miles from Quebec.

According to a report last week, sect members were said to be planning a move to Iran from Ontario.

Sect members told the Canadian media that they made the move due to a dispute with education authorities in Quebec over the curriculum they were being required to teach the children, who are home schooled, including subjects such as evolution.

The sect was concerned that the children would be placed in foster care, according to The Star.

Ontario reportedly has liberal requirements for faith-based home schooling.

The sect, led by Israeli Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, reportedly uses extreme violence and mind control. Most of its members are Israeli-born with Canadian-born children.

Quebec youth protection services told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that there are concerns that the children were neglected. The children reportedly were forced to live in the homes of families other than their own for punishments.

Youth protection officials had been scheduled to meet in court with sect members the day after the group of some 40 families fled their homes, according to the CBC. The files have been sent to youth protection services in Ontario.

Some in the group already have purchased homes in the new location, and the rest are living in a local motel, the Globe and Mail reported.

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