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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A report in Turkish news outlet Todays' Zaman, quoted in Arabic media, says that thousands of Turkish Jews, fearful of their future in that country, are applying to become citizens of Portugal.

Portugal passed a law in 2015 allowing descendants of Jews expelled from that country in 1497 to become citizens, and many of Turkey's Sephardic community qualify. (Turkey's Jewish community is predominantly  made up of descendants of Jews who fled from Spain and Portugal.) About 150 became citizens soon after the law was changed.

The Portuguese Embassy in Ankara has a description on how Turkish Jews can apply for citizenship:

I. Who can request the Portuguese nationality?According to the recent amendment to the Regulation of Portuguese Nationality (Decree-law n.º 30 - A/2015), published in the Official Journal on February 27th 2015, the Portuguese Government may grant Portuguese nationality by naturalization to the descendants of Sephardic Portuguese Jews through the attestation of their links to Sephardic communities of Portuguese origin, namely, surnames, family speaking language and direct or indirect descent.
Each candidate may also meet the following criteria:

  • being of majority age or emancipated, under Portuguese law (18 years old);
  • having not been convicted, with a sentence transited in rem judicatum (closed case), for a crime liable to a prison sentence of three years or more, in accordance with Portuguese law.  
 The report says that dozens of British Jews are also applying to take advantage of the law.

The Portuguese city of Porto has become a hub for Jews who are moving to Portugal, as JTA reported last year. Tablet also had an interesting article on the phenomenon.

Spain passed a similar law previously to welcome back Jews from families who were expelled in 1492.

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