Muslims Demand Same Spain Return Right as Sephardic Jews

Is Citizenship Rule Evidence of Double Standard?

Baptism of Fire: Muslims were forced to convert to Christianity and driven out of Spain, much like Sephardic Jews. So they ask why they shouldn’t also qualify for citizenship.
getty images
Baptism of Fire: Muslims were forced to convert to Christianity and driven out of Spain, much like Sephardic Jews. So they ask why they shouldn’t also qualify for citizenship.

By JTA

Published February 19, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Spanish Muslims urged their government to grant citizenship to descendants of Muslims who were expelled from Spain in addition to Jews.

The demand was made this week in a statement by the Association for Historical Legacy of Al-Andalus, the Spanish news agency EFE reported on Feb. 17.

“The Spanish state should grant the same rights to all those who were expelled, otherwise their decision is selective, if not racist,” Bayi Loubaris, the association’s president, told EFE.

The association named several families currently residing in North Africa as candidates for receiving Spanish citizenship.

Several other prominent Muslims and legal experts accused the Spanish government of pursuing a double standard following the approval on Feb. 10 of a bill proposing to naturalize descendants of Sephardic Jews, which the governments said was to atone for the expulsions 500 years ago.

Submitted by Spain’s Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, the bill is expected to go up to a vote in Spanish congress this year. Portugal already passed a law granting citizenship to descendants last year and its interior ministry is currently drafting regulations ahead of the law’s application, according to Portuguese lawmakers who submitted the bill.

The Jews were persecuted in Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition which the Catholic Church and royal houses of both countries led against non-Christians in the 15th and 16th centuries.

“Recognition of the Sephardic community is symbolic, necessary and just. The same applies to those who have kept their Andalus-Moorish identity in exile,” Manuel Antonio Rodríguez, a professor of law at the University of Cordoba, told the El Confidencial daily on Sunday.

In 2006, the United Left party in the parliament of the autonomous Spanish region of Andalusia submitted a bill which proposed recognizing the rights of descendants of Muslims who were expelled but the bill never made it to a vote.

Portuguese lawmakers who drafted the country’s law on Sephardic Jews rejected calls to naturalize the descendants of Muslims who were expelled, citing the fact that the expulsion of the Muslims was part of a war to end the occupation of Spain by North African invaders.

“Persecution of Jews was just that, while what happened with the Arabs was part of a conflict,” Jose Ribeiro e Castro, a Spanish lawmaker who drafted Portugal’s law of return, said. ”There’s no basis for comparison.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.