Wed 2 Oct 2019
A gift shop in the old Jewish quarters of Toledo, where Jews were expelled five centuries ago. Photograph: Gérard Julien/AFP/Getty Images
More than 132,000 descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain in the late 15th century have applied for Spanish citizenship under a law intended to make amends for the mass exile.
The law, introduced four years ago, was designed to atone for the “historical wrong” that saw the country’s Jewish community expelled, forced to convert to Catholicism or burned at the stake.
After being extended for a year, the law lapsed on 1 October. According to the justice ministry, 132,226 people of Sephardic descent applied for Spanish citizenship before the deadline, with a huge rise in applications in the past month.
“By 31 August, 60,226 applications had been received, but in September alone, almost 72,000 were received, most of them from citizens in Latin American countries, mainly Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Spanish government had initially estimated that around 90,000 people would seek citizenship, but acknowledged that it was hard to know just how many people would meet the criteria.
Spain’s Federation of Jewish Communities (FCJE), which certifies applications, said it had received more than 30,000 from Mexico, 26,000 from Colombia, 14,000 from Venezuela, 7,000 from Argentina, 5,400 from the US and 4,900 from Israel.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is seven months old. We are patiently waiting that a similar offer is extended to the expelled Muslims of Spain as well.