Spanish parliament approves law granting citizenship to Sephardic Jews

The flag of Spain. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( Spain’s Chamber of Deputies on Thursday approved a law aimed at granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled during the Spanish Inquisition. 

On the floor of the parliament, Spanish Minister of Justice Rafael Catala and Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo both declared that the historic decision is “repairing a 500-year injustice,” El Pais reported.

According to the law, the applicants would first need to prove their Sephardic background through either their local Jewish community or a direct family link. Authorities may also accept applicants with a Sephardic surname or the ability to speak Ladino, the Spanish-Hebrew hybrid language. Next, the applicants would need to show a special connection to Spain such as speaking Spanish, in addition to taking a basic test about the country.

The law is scheduled to take effect in October. Sephardic Jewish descendants in counties such as Venezuela and Turkey, who have faced rising levels of anti-Semitism and persecution in recent years, are seen as among those who are likely to apply for Spanish citizenship. 

In a statement, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE) said the law began a “new stage in the history of the relationship between Spain and the Jewish world; a new period of encounter, dialogue, and harmony.”

“Contrary to what one might think, the descendants of those expelled not harbored feelings of hatred or resentment but rather the contrary, they cultivated a deep love for the land they were from and intense loyalty to tradition and language received of their elders,” FCJE added.

Posted on June 11, 2015 .