Portugal urged to maintain citizenship rights for Jews

Approximately 60,000 Jews worldwide have applied for citizenship under a 2015 law


The head of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) has called on the Portuguese parliament not to endanger the potential citizenship to Jews of Portuguese descent.

A 2015 law passed by the Portuguese parliament allows for Sephardi Jews to gain citizenship if they could prove their ancestors lived in the country until  Inquisition  and explusion there in the 15th century.

However, the socialist PS party has tabled amendments to the law which would make citizenship far harder to obtain.

Dr Moshe Kantor, EJC president, urged the Portuguese parliament to ament the “administrative flaws” of the law “without losing sight of, or endangering, what is essential: the opening of a real, achievable path to citizenship of the Portuguese Republic to the descendants of persecuted Portuguese Sephardic Jews.

“This act of tolerance and reconciliation is as relevant, symbolic and inspiring to other nations as it was when it was approved five years ago.”

He continued that “[m]any of the amendments to the law that have been proposed diminishes what was unique in its wisdom and generosity.”

One amendment, which would require applicants to have lived in the country for two years prior to being naturalised, has since been dropped. However, other conditions are expected to be introduced.

Around 60,000 Jews worldwide have applied for citizenship, and several thousand have already been granted it – including an estimated 5,000 from Israel.

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