Spain Grants Citizenship to 4,300 Descendants of Sephardic Jews

The approval comes a day after Spain adopted a new law that allows applicants to keep their existing citizenship.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
People stand near a gift shop in the old Jewish Quarter of Toledo, Spain.
People stand near a gift shop in the old Jewish Quarter of Toledo, Spain.Credit: AFP

AP - Spain on Friday granted citizenship to 4,302 people whose Jewish ancestors fled after being told in 1492 to convert to Catholicism or go into exile ahead of the Spanish Inquisition that saw many Jews burned at the stake.

The naturalizations were approved a day after Spain adopted its new citizenship law for descendants of Sephardic Jews, said Justice Minister Rafael Catala.

It allows applicants to maintain their original citizenship so they can have dual nationality.

Those granted citizenship Friday applied under an older law requiring them to relinquish home country nationality but can now have dual nationality.

Spain's Federation of Jewish Communities praised the mass naturalizations, adding that most applicants were from Morocco, Turkey and Venezuela.

The new law gives Sephardic Jews and their descendants three years to seek a Spanish passport, with the right to work and live in the 28-nation European Union.

Like others seeking Spanish citizenship, applicants must be tested in basic Spanish and pass a current events and culture test about Spain.

They also must establish a modern-day link to Spain, which can be as simple as donating to a Spanish charity or as expensive as buying property.

The Spanish Jewish federation has received more than 5,000 requests for information about the Spanish law. No one knows how many people might be eligible, though some estimates run into the millions.

Portugal adopted a similar citizenship path for Sephardic Jews to make amends for its 1496 decision giving Jews 10 months to convert or leave.

The Portuguese citizenship application process does not require applicants to take language or culture tests or prove a modern-day link to the country.

The 204 applications received since the law went into effect in March are still under evaluation, Portugal's Justice Ministry said.

Spain also allows dual nationality for people born in countries that used to be Spanish colonies.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed

AIPAC

AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op