Amid Ongoing Turmoil in Their Country, Thousands of Turkish Jews Reportedly Seeking Portuguese Citizenship
by Algemeiner Staff
Amid the ongoing turmoil in their country, thousands of Turkish Jews are applying for Portuguese citizenship, an Israeli lawyer told The Guardian last week.
“They are concerned — and I think last few months have proved them right — because things are not stable in Turkey and maybe they will need to leave if things get worse,” Yoram Zara was quoted as saying.
Zara’s comment was included in a report on the rising number of British Sephardic Jews seeking Portuguese passports in the wake of last June’s Brexit vote.
Both Portugal and Spain passed laws in recent years creating paths to citizenship for the descendants of Jewish victims of the inquisitions in those two countries.
“Five hundred years ago, Spain and Portugal expelled the Jews and the sultan of the Ottoman Empire received them very happily — it was a very good deal — and they have been living in those areas very happily for 500 years, but now the circle is kind of closing because the Turkish Jews are not feeling very safe where they are, and so you have the inverse,” Dr. Michael Rothwell — a delegate to the Jewish community in the Portuguese city of Oporto — told The Guardian.
Turkey’s Jewish population — which at its peak in the 1920s totaled around 80,000 — currently stands at around 15,000.
According to the 2015 Anti-Defamation League Global 100 poll, 71% of Turkish adults hold antisemitic attitudes.
The past year in Turkey has seen a failed July coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as a series of deadly terrorist attacks, including most recently one on New Year’s Eve at a nightclub in Istanbul in which 39 partygoers — including a 19-year-old Israeli Arab woman — were killed by an ISIS gunman.