GalileeFlash 90

A Nazareth court on Tuesday extended the remand of the Arab leader of a cult in northern Israel. Munir Farhat, the 56 year old leader of what police said was a destructive cult, allegedly led a group of six families in teaching parents that the only way to discipline children was by abusing them, to imprison them in closets for long hours, and even to paint their faces with excrement.

Farhat and the families are residents of Majd al-Krum, a Muslim town in the Galilee. The cult's activities extended for more than a decade, police said. Police arrested Farhat several weeks ago, but news of the arrest was released only on Tuesday.

Besides abusing children, Farhat instructed husbands to beat their wives. Women in the cult were forced to donate their time to Farhat, including cleaning his house – and if he was dissatisfied, he would beat the victims and lock them up in a closet for days.

Police said Farhat was also very involved in cult members' personal lives, and he required them to reveal intimate details of their relationships, and of their finances. He also demanded that members turn over their salaries to him, and he distributed allowances to members. Cult members questioned by police said that Farhat tried to foster total dependence on him, and demanded that they loyally follow his every instruction.

Farhat was arrested after police opened an investigation against him last month, after a member of the cult filed a complaint against him – the only one filed in the decade the cult was in existence, police added.