The dean of the largest Islamic university in the world argues that Portugal should give descendants of Muslims, expelled after the Christian reconquest, the same rights as those that are granted to Sephardic Jews
In an interview with Lusa, Ahmed Mohamed Al-Tayyeb, Sheikh of Al-Azhar University, Cairo, argued that the facilitated access to Portuguese citizenship granted to descendants of Jews expelled from Portugal should be extended to Muslims, whose ancestors were expelled from the country in the past.
“Muslims that are descendants of Muslim families from that time also have the right to appeal to entities and claim their rights”, stated the dean of Al-zhar, in an interview with Lusa.
During the XII, XIII and XIV centuries, many Muslims and Mozarabs were massacred in or expelled from the Iberian Peninsula, in the context of religious radicalization of the Catholic Church to the time, which also led to the expulsion of Jews that continued to profess the Jewish faith.
In recent years, Portugal apologized for expelling the Jews, and, in March 2015, the country issued an order granting the right to citizenship to the descendants of these families.
According to data from the Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs, since 2016, a total of 2.160 Sephardic Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, which were expelled from Portugal during the XVI century, have acquired Portuguese nationality.
For Al-Tayyeb, “there should be citizenship justice, regardless of religious or ethnic origin of the person concerned”.
On Thursday, the dean of Al-Azhar university, Cairo, the largest normative reference of Sunni Islam, met with the President of the Republic, and several Portuguese officials.
While commending the meetings, the dean expressed belief that the Portuguese state will extended the reach of the legislation.
“I think it should be the same for everyone. Citizenship is based on a social contract, which does not recognize discrimination of any kind”, he said.
Translated from the original in Portuguese found here
Sephardi descendants from Turkey and Israel are the majority of those who received Portuguese nationality
A total of 2161 Sephardic Jews, descendants of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula expelled from Portugal in the 16th century, have acquired Portuguese nationality since 2016, according the Institute of Registries and Notaries.
Since March 2015, when the law granting Portuguese citizenship to Sephardi Jews came into force, 12,610 applications were submitted, 466 in that year, 5100 in 2016 and 7044 in 2017.
In 2015, no citizenships were granted yet. In 2016, 431 citizenships were granted and in 2017, 1730 citizenships were granted.
Sephardi Jews which are citizens of Turkey and Israel were the majority of those who received the Portuguese citizenship.
In 2016, 271 Turkish citizens and 81 Israeli citizens were granted Portuguese citizenship. In 2017, 968 Turkish citizens and 457 Israeli citizens were granted Portuguese citizenship. In total, until 31.12.17, 1,239 Turkish citizens and 538 Israeli citizens obtained Portuguese citizenship.
This legislative initiative is aimed to strengthen Portugal’s ties with the Jewish community and to recognize its heritage.
Translation from the original in Portuguese found here
Since 2015, more than a thousand descendants of Jews that were expelled from Portugal in the 15th century obtained Portuguese nationality. The Jewish Community of Porto organized a concert to celebrate the occasion.
More than a thousand descendants of Jews expelled from Portugal in the 15th century have obtained Portuguese nationality since March of 2015, date when legislation allowing for that came into effect, the Jewish Community of Oporto revealed this Friday. “By force of the legislation that allows Portuguese Sephardic Jews to request, by their condition, Portuguese nationality, a rapprochement of Sephardi Jews with Portugal”, stated Dale Jeffries, the spokesman for the Jewish Community of Oporto (JCO).
To signal this achievement, JCO, according to which “to date more than a thousand Sephardi Jews have acquired Portuguese nationality”, promotes a concert on the 16th of November, 2017 in Oporto’s Casa da Música.
Tickets can be found here
Sephardic is a term that describes the descendants of the Jews that lived in Spain and Portugal before the religious persecution of which they were a targeted since the late 15th century.
According to the organizer, the Concerto da Memória Sefardita (Concert of Sephardic Memory) is “a way of thanking” the Portuguese State, for allowing the rendezvous of the community “with the descendants of those that already lived in this territory, since before the birth of nationality”.
“Tradition and Modernity – Tribute to our Jewish musical heritage” is the motto of the concert which will take place at Oporto’s Casa da Música and that will see performances by the lyrical singers Linet Saul (soprano) and Judith Rajk (contralto), both Sephardic Jews of Portuguese origin, that will interpret a diverse range of musical pieces, joined by the Orquestra of ESMAE – Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo (Technical College of Music and Performance Arts).
Also featuring in this concert will be, according to JCO, the mixture of Portuguese, Castellano and other languages known as Ladino, spoken and sung even today in many countries, by over 150 thousand Jews of Portuguese and Spanish origin.
“The Jewish Community of Oporto does not only have religious ends. The promotion of Hebrew history and culture, which leads us to have a Jewish museum open and receiving at synagogue thousands of students annually, both Portuguese and foreigners, are some of the other priorities in which we apply ourselves”, adds Dale Jeffries.
The Concert of Sephardic Memory is composed by seven moments which include Psalm of The Distant Dove of Hugo Weisgall, three excerpts of the Hebrew version of Esther by Händel, excerpts of Seven Sephardic Folk Songs by Shimon Cohen, The Exodus Song by Ernest Gold and the Theme of Sephardi Memory authored by maestro and clarinet player António Saiote.
“While the ‘art of museum’ is not permitted in synagogues, it’s interesting to note that art and music are the essence of Hebrew prayer. Almost every prayer is made from a musical basis”, highlights Dale Jeffries.
In April of 2013, the Portuguese Parliament approved a change to the Law of Nationality, which provided for the granting of nationality by naturalization to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardi Jews, and in July of that year the law was published and should have been regulated within 90 days.
However, it was only at the end of August 2014 that the Ministry of Justice presented to the Jewish communities in Lisbon and Porto a draft decree-law for the regulations and the decree-law regulating the granting of Portuguese nationality by naturalization to descendants of Sephardi Jews was approved by the Government in January 2015.
The decree-law was promulgated by the then President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and published in Diário da República at the end of February 2015, coming into force on March 1 of the same year.
Translated from the Original in Portuguese found here