theguardian: by Ashifa Kassam —
A proposed law will fast-track naturalisation of Jews whose ancestors were expelled 500 years ago. Now the descendants of Muslims who were ousted are also seeking the right to return.
Perched dramatically on a rocky mountain, the small city of Toledo overlooks a bend in the Tagus river. Within its maze of cobblestone streets are buildings that once housed mosques, churches and synagogues, hinting at the varied cultures that once called this medieval city home.
Earlier this month, about 50 miles away from Toledo, the Spanish government sought to strengthen its ties with one of these cultures, announcing plans to fast-track the naturalisation of Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors were expelled five centuries ago from Spain.
Shortly after banishing the country’s Jewish population, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand turned their attention to Spain’s Muslims, forcing them to covert to Christianity or face expulsion. The Muslims who converted, known as Moriscos, often did so in name only, holding on tightly to their customs and traditions.
In the early 1600s – nearly 120 years after Jews in Spain were told to leave – the Moriscos were also expelled. An estimated 275,000 people were forcibly resettled, the majority of them heading to Morocco, some to Algeria and Tunisia.