Spain's lower house of parliament gave final approval Thursday to a law setting a citizenship path for descendants of Jews forced to flee the country after all Jews were told in 1492 to convert, go into exile or risk being burned at the stake.Muslims are upset, saying that they too should have the same rights after their expulsion from Spain.
The law allows Sephardic Jews to start applying for Spanish citizenship in October, granting them a three-year window to seek a Spanish passport complete with the right to work and live anywhere in the 28-nation European Union.
"Today begins a new stage in the history of relations between Spain and the Jewish world," the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities said in a statement. "A new period of reunion, dialogue and harmony re-integrating a branch of the nation that was unjustly torn off in its day."
Many would-be applicants thought the Spanish law in the works since 2013 would carry few requirements beyond thorough vetting of applicant ancestry by Jewish organizations. That's the case with the Portuguese law, which was proposed after Spain's but went into effect in March 1.
But Spanish lawmakers ended up drafting a citizenship process for Sephardic Jews similar to that faced by permanent residents seeking Spanish citizenship.
The hurdles are significant: Sephardic applicants must learn and be tested in basic Spanish and must also pass a current events and culture test about Spain.
And they must establish a modern-day link to Spain, which can be as simple as donating to a Spanish charity or as expensive as buying Spanish property.
Moroccan media calls this rule hypocritical. A group of activists in Morocco and Spain criticized the decision, describing it as a policy of double standards. One analyst said that the Muslims who were expelled from Spain after hundreds of years of ruling Andalusia are more important than the minority of Jews who lived there. He said, "Moroccans and the world strongly condemns this distinction that does not make sense, and we demand equality in the granting of citizenship for each of his Andalusian origin. "
There is one significant difference, though. Many Muslims claim that Andalusia is still Muslim land and they want it back. As Yoram Ettinger wrote in 2012:
The collapse of Israeli-Palestinian agreements from the 1993 Oslo Accords until today stems from the fact that both Israeli and US leaders ignore the real root of the conflict. The heart of the conflict is the denial of the existence – and not the size - of any non-Muslim entity on land that, in the eyes of Muslims, is Waqf – an inalienable religious land endowment.Sephardic jews are not planning to take over parts of Spain. But many Muslims want to do exactly that.
On Jan. 9, 2012, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, a close associate of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, stated that all of Israel has been Waqf since 637 C.E. and will be forever. The statement was made at the annual rally of Fatah, which Abbas heads. It was broadcast on the official Mahmoud Abbas television station, and called for the killing of Jews to hasten the Islamic Resurrection.
The principle of the Waqf land is permanent, and transcends leaders and policies which are provisional. It applies to any land that was ever under Islamic control. It is an inseparable part of the legacy of Muhammad and Islamic law, especially at this time of the surge by the trans-national Muslim Brotherhood, which views Allah, the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad, jihad and martyrdom as the goal, the law, the leader, the way and the exalted aspiration respectively. Their loyalty to the Waqf land obligates Muslims to "holy wars" and the restoration of sovereignty in the Philippines, Thailand, parts of China, Kashmir, Chechnya, Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere.
The centrality of the Waqf land in the Muslim experience can be understood from the precedent of Andalusia, the Arabic name for most of the Iberian Peninsula, which was under Islamic rule from 711-1492 C.E. The Muslim Golden Age did not take place between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, but rather in Andalusia, especially in the Alhambra palace/fortress in Granada. At the beginning of the 8th century, the Muslims conquered the Iberian Peninsula, southern France, Sicily and the Italian coastline and declared it "the Abode of Islam." In 1492, Spain was liberated from the occupation by Muslims, who today still view "Al-Andalus" as Waqf. The March 2004 Muslim terrorist plots in Madrid, which murdered 191 people and wounded around 1,800, intended to rectify the "Injustice of Andalusia."
This may explain why Spain is in no rush to provide "equal rights' between those those whom it expelled capriciously and those who were expelled in the course of reconquering their land.