Portugal Begins Granting Citizenship to Exiled Sephardic Jews

Three of the 200 applications the country has received have been approved so far.

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A Jewish woman reads a book at the main Jewish synagogue in Lisbon, Portugal.
A Jewish woman reads a book at the main Jewish synagogue in Lisbon, Portugal.Credit: AP

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 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.

Alfonso Paredes Henriquez, a Panama-based real estate developer, said he and his brother were among the successful applicants. They are entitled to a passport and the right to work and live in the 28-nation European Union.

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