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Andalus Muslims Demand Spanish Citizenship
Struggling to keep the memory of Al-Andalus alive, a Muslim advocacy group has urged the Spanish authorities to grant Muslims, expelled from Spain in 1609, the citizenship, putting them on equal footing with Jews who recently gained similar rights.
“The Spanish State should grant the same rights to all those who were expelled, otherwise their decision is selective, if not racist,” Bayi Loubaris, president of the Association for Historical Legacy of Al-Andalus, told Spanish news agency EFE.
The calls to grant the expelled Moriscos citizenship followed the decision of Spain’s minister of justice, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, to give the descendants of the expelled Sephardi Jews the citizenship, The Local.es reported on Tuesday, February 18.
This decision, issued according to a new civil code that was approved earlier in February by Madrid’s cabinet, will allow the descendants of Sephardic Jews, banished from Spain in 1492, to re-gain the Spanish Nationality.
Nearly 3.5 million Sephardic Jews are expected to apply for the Spanish citizenship after more than five centuries in exile, according to Jewish associations.
The Association of Al-Andalus has praised the move of giving expelled Jews citizenship, deeming it “very positive”.
The decision presents a confession of the “guilt of the Spanish State in expelling its own citizens,” Loubaris explained.
He called for a similar right to be granted to the Moriscos who are the Muslims expelled from Spain in 1609.
Along with seeking citizenship rights, descendants of the Muslims who were expelled from Spain in the 17th are eyeing a wider recognition of Muslims' contribution to the Spanish culture and heritage.
The Moriscos, the name given to Muslims who were living in Spain after the fall of Granada, were subjected to an array of persecution, torture, mass killings, forced conversions to Christianity, the notorious Spanish Inquisition and mass exodus that started in February 1502.
Muslims ruled much of Spain for centuries starting from 711 to 1492.
Their last king was defeated by Catholic king and queen, Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492.
After that Muslims mosques were either left to ruin or converted into churches.
There are nearly 1.6 million Muslims in Spain, making up 3.4% of the country’s 47 million population, according to an Andalusian Observatory.
About 1.1 million of Spain's Muslims re foreigners, while 464,978 are Spanish Muslims.
Islam is the second religion in Spain after Christianity and has been recognized through the 1967 law of religious freedom.
A recent survey found that 70% of Spain’s Muslims feel at home in the European country and that 80 percent feel they have adapted well to the Spanish way of life.