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Spain offers citizenship

By offering 2.2 million Sephardim jews citizenship, Spain wants to make up after the expulsion of the Spanish Jews in 1492.

523 years ago, the Spanish Jews had two alternatives, either convert to Catholicism or leave the country. The edict was issued by Ferdinand and Isabella on March 30, 1492 and now Madrid finally is beginning to rectify the injustice after the expulsion by giving children of those expelled Spanish citizenship. The Jewish population at the time of the expulsion was around 300,000 people, while their descendants amount to over 2.2 million people. The Spanish government estimates that up to 90,000 people may come to apply for citizenship.


The migration of the Spanish Jews in 1492. Photo: Wikimedia, original source: Encyclopaedia Judaica.

Those applying for citizenship must prove their kinship with those who were expelled, and they must also prove a connection to Spain. There are also requirements that they must have some knowledge of the Spanish language, or otherwise be integrated in Spain (the new law is very imprecise).

The Jews were scattered throughout the world, and it is believed that the Jews who today live in South America, North Africa and Turkey are those most interested in moving to Spain. However, few believe that those who today live in Israel is interested in moving to Spain. But the Spanish Consulate in Tel Aviv has already received many applications, since Spanish citiezenship is after all an admission to the EU and Israel allows dual citizenship.

Before the law comes into force, it must be adopted in the Senate, which will take place in May. The law can then enter into force in January.

Citizens in Granada

Residents in Granada at the time of the expulsion. Source: Biblioteca Provincial de Granada.