World Bulletin / News Desk
New Spanish legislation allowing descendants of Sephardic Jews to be granted Spanish citizenship was inspired by the way Turkey helped persecuted Jews in the 15th century, Spain's Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, has said.
The Spanish government approved a law in February allowing Sephardic Jews to receive Spanish citizenship while keeping that of their country of origin.
The move came after the government recalled the actions in 1492 of Ottoman ruler Sultan Bayazid II, who had immediately welcomed Jews who were persecuted and expelled from Spain (the Sephardim).
“I think such behavior by Turkey is not only an example of tolerance of other religions, but also a pure example of modernity,” Gallardon said on Thursday.
He added: “The model we took, we learned from Turkey - that it had opened its door - and we are grateful. The Spanish government does not at all think that Turkey has been short of providing freedom of religion to Sephardic Jews.
"It is our turn to give them Spanish citizenship rights. I can say that Turkey corrected our wrongdoing around 500 years ago and Turkey has an established freedom of religion."
Gallardon also added “The model we have decided to enact - giving citizenship rights to Sephardic Jews - is the same one Turkey has been implementing up to now.
"First of all, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Turkish nation that it opened its door to Sephardic Jews who were unfairly exiled from their country.
"Secondly, I admire Turkey for giving Sephardic Jews citizenship. The Spanish government was inspired by Turkey as it established a democratic and tolerant system 500 years ago."
Under the law, Sephardic Jews can be granted Spanish citizenship while residing anywhere in the world.Last Mod: 03 Nisan 2014, 16:18