Monday, October 25th | 19 Heshvan 5782

February 9, 2014 12:40 pm

Spain Approves Law Permitting Descendants of Expelled Jews to Claim Citizenship

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National Library of Spain. Photo: Spain’s Justice Ministry has announced a new law that will allow descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled during the Inquisition to pursue Spanish citizenship without giving up their current nationality.

“The law we’ve passed today has a deep historic meaning: not only because it concerns events in our past of which we should not be proud, like the decree to expel the Jews in 1492, but because it reflects the reality of Spain as an open and plural society,” Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said, Reuters reported.

An estimated 300,000 Jews lived in Spain prior to their forced conversion or expulsion under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand during the 15th and 16th centuries. More than 3.5 million people from the Middle East, Europe, and North and South America claim Sephardic heritage today.

The law does not require prospective citizens to be a practicing Jew, but requires them to prove their Sephardic background through their surnames, language or ancestry as well as obtaining approval from the Jewish federation in Spain. Despite the Justice Ministry endorsement, the law still needs approval from the Spanish parliament.

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