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Portugal Offers Restitution to Descendants of Jews Persecuted During Inquisition


Portugal is seeking to make restitution for its treatment of Jews during the Inquisition by offering citizenship to anyone who can prove they are descendants of the Sephardic Jews who were either killed or driven out of the country 500 years ago, said.

Although tens of thousands of Jews lived there during the Middle Ages, only about 1, 000 remain. Those interested in applying for citizenship, however, will be required to prove they have a “traditional connection to Portuguese Sepharadim such as family names, family language and collateral ancestry, ” the report said.

During the Inquisition (1536-1821), thousands of Jews were either forced to convert to Christianity, burned at the stake or exiled from Portugal as well as Spain, the website said.

“There is no possibility to amend what was done, ” stated Portuguese Justice Minister Paula Teixeira da Cruz. “I would say it is the attribution of a right.”

The move to atone for past sins follows early attempts, beginning with a 1988 meeting between then Portuguese President Mario Soares and representatives of the remaining Jewish community during which he formally apologized for the Inquisition. Twelve years later, the head of the Catholic church in Portugal publically apologized for the suffering imposed on the Jews there, and in 2008, a monument to the dead was erected outside the Sao Domingos church where the slaughter of thousands of innocent Jews commenced on Easter in 1506, the report said.

The citizenship application process takes four months and is simpler than the one proposed in Spanish legislation, which requires a test of the applicant’s knowledge of Spanish history, the Guardian said.

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