Portugal Begins Granting Citizenship to Exiled Sephardic Jews

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

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