World

Portugal approves Sephardic Jew citizenship plan, 5 centuries after persecution

  • In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, a woman walks past a monument to the Jews believed to have been murdered in this place in a pogrom by local people in 1506, in Lisbon. Portugal is following Spain and granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted 500 years ago. The words in the monument read in Portuguese: "In memory of the thousands of Jewish victims of the intolerance and religious fanaticism murdered in a massacre that began in this place on April 19, 1506". (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

    In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, a woman walks past a monument to the Jews believed to have been murdered in this place in a pogrom by local people in 1506, in Lisbon. Portugal is following Spain and granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted 500 years ago. The words in the monument read in Portuguese: "In memory of the thousands of Jewish victims of the intolerance and religious fanaticism murdered in a massacre that began in this place on April 19, 1506". (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Jewish prayer shawls are stored on a shelf at the entrance of the Jewish synagogue in Lisbon. Portugal is following Spain and granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

    In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Jewish prayer shawls are stored on a shelf at the entrance of the Jewish synagogue in Lisbon. Portugal is following Spain and granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Jose Oulman Bensaude Carp, President of the Jewish community in Lisbon, waits to be interviewed by The Associated Press at the main Jewish synagogue in Lisbon. Portugal is following Spain and granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

    In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Jose Oulman Bensaude Carp, President of the Jewish community in Lisbon, waits to be interviewed by The Associated Press at the main Jewish synagogue in Lisbon. Portugal is following Spain and granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)  (The Associated Press)

Portugal is following Spain and granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted 500 years ago.

The government approved Thursday a change to its nationality law that provides dual citizenship rights for Sephardic Jews — the term commonly used for those who once lived in the Iberian peninsula. Spain adopted a similar law last year

Applicants will be vetted by Portuguese Jewish community institutions, as well as by government agencies.

After Spain drove out Jews in 1492, some 80,000 of them crossed the border into Portugal, historians estimate.

Portugal's monarch initially offered them shelter, but four years later demanded they convert or leave. When they started leaving, his successor King Manuel I prohibited their departure and forced them to convert, becoming so-called New Christians.

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