Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Spain and Portugal have begun granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews

As reported by Associated Press, October 14, 2015:

LISBON — Portugal has started granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted five centuries ago.

The Justice Ministry said Tuesday that on Oct. 2 it approved the first three of more than 200 applications it has received so far. The other applications are still being processed following a law that began in March.

Seeking to make amends for past wrongdoing, both Portugal and Spain adopted laws this year allowing citizenship for descendants of Sephardic Jews — the term commonly used for those who once lived in the Iberian peninsula — persecuted during the Inquisition...

...The Jewish Community of Oporto in northern Portugal, which is one of the organizations vetting applications, ...said Tuesday it has issued certificates for Jews from 23 countries, with two-thirds of them for Sephardic Jews from Turkey.
Portugal's action is subsequent to that of Spain, which passed a similar law in June 2015. However, according to Soeren Kern of the Gatestone Institute in an article published on June 21, 2015, the Spanish law "does not right a wrong" (read the full article for the details:

The final version of the law introduces so many hurdles to obtaining Spanish citizenship that most prospective hopefuls are likely to be deterred from even initiating the application process. Indeed, the law in its current form ensures that very few of the estimated 3.5 million Sephardic Jews in the world today will ever become Spanish citizens.

Spanish authorities -- presumably fearful that the list of Sephardic surnames could provoke an avalanche of citizenship applications -- issued an urgent notice that the government has no intention of ever publishing an official list of Sephardic names.

"All these facts lead us to conclude that the government has the clear intention that the fewer the number of applicants, the better. And the economic filter ensures that only people with high purchasing power can apply. ... Considering all of these factors, we believe that this law does not right a wrong. This law is more of a symbol, a first step, but not a law that will serve to satisfy the majority of Sephardim who would like obtain Spanish nationality." — Jon Iñarritu García, a congressman from the Basque Country.

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