Portuguese government rows back on planned restrictions to citizenship rights for Jews

The ruling Socialist Party says it will no longer require those whose ancestors fled the country to reside for two years before naturalisation


Portugal’s ruling party has backtracked on attempts to restrict Sephardi Jews of Portuguese descent from gaining citizenship under a 2015 law.

In mid-May, members of parliament for the country’s Socialist Party submitted draft amendments to the law – which grants citizenship to Jews whose families fled following the Portuguese Inquisition. The amendments would have required applicants to have lived there for two years to be eligible for citizenship.

The amendments drew criticism from Jewish groups, including the European Jewish Congress. EJC president Dr Moshe Kantor urged Portugal not to endanger the applications of more than 60,000 Jews worldwide who have applied – several thousand have already had their applications approved.

On Wednesday, the Socialist Party bowed to pressure. It said it would not change the 2015 law, but would adapt new regulations requiring applicants to demonstrate an “objective connection” to Portugal.

“The [Socialist Party] and the government are to be congratulated on finally coming to their senses on this issue, which must lead to a strengthening, and not the destruction, of the law,” responded Michael Rothwell, a board member of the Jewish community in Porto, in an email according to the Times of Israel.

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