Jews of Spanish origin have criticised the Spanish government’s latest change in the law of the dual citizenship for the expelled Sephardic Jewish community.
Sephardic Jews were members of an ancient Spanish Jewish community who were expelled after the Spanish inquisition nearly 500 years ago.
With the Sephardic Ancestry Bill, the Spanish government wants to give the Sephardic Jews a citizenship that was taken away from them in the fifteenth century.
However, after deciding to pass the bill, the Spanish government made some changes to it, requiring Sephardic Jews who want to apply for the Spanish citizenship to come to Spain twice for an examination to test knowledge of Spain’s current affairs.
Most Sephardic Jews wishing to return have found this requirement costly, which in addition to the registration process also makes it difficult to apply.
Sephardic Jews have also expressed their anger over the general knowledge test, saying knowledge of the ancient Sephardic languages like Ladino should be enough to earn citizenship.
An official from Granada’s Jewish information center, Chevalier Sola, was cited in The Independent complaining about the process.
“This law acts as a recognition of the pain and the damage that was suffered in Spain by the Jews after everything they had contributed here. But I now view it as a two-edged weapon” she said.
Another official from the same organisation said that the government passed the law as “a formal recognition” of the Sephardic Jews “but nothing more.”
The current government of the People’s party stated that the law was not shaped yet and is open to changes until the end of the 2015.
The Spanish government in 2013 decided to give citizenship to Jews who can prove their Spanish origin, stating at the time they expected nearly 3.5 million Sephardic Jews from Israel, France, Mexico, Chile, and the United States to apply.
The government later passed a law which gave Sephardic Jews the right of a Spanish citizenship without giving up their current one.
Spanish officials explained that they were inspired to allow the Sephardic Jews to return by the Ottoman ruler Sultan Bayazid II, who invited the Sephardic Jews to the Ottoman lands after they were exiled from Spain in the fifteenth century.
Muslims in Spain were also exiled after the inquisition, but no preparations have been made by the Spanish government to repatriate its lost Muslims.