Spain Has Missed You, Spanish King Tells Sephardic Jews

In light of new law, which grants citizenship to Jews who were expelled during the Spanish Inquisition, King Felipe VI welcomes new citizens back 'home.'

Spain's King Felipe delivers a speech during a ceremony celebrating a law through which Sephardic Jews  can apply for Spanish citizenship, at the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain November 30, 2015.
REUTERS/Andrea Comas

Spanish King Felipe VI has presided over a ceremony welcoming a new citizenship law for descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled five centuries ago, saying Spain had missed them.

Addressing representatives of Spanish Jewish associations and political leaders Monday in Madrid's Royal Palace, Felipe said that Sephardic Jews — as those who once lived in the Iberian peninsula are known — were now back "at home" in Spain.

Justice Minister Rafael Catala said that since the law was passed October 1 there have been nearly 600 citizenship applications and 10,000 information requests.

In October, Spain also 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.