Spain’s Apology


The Spanish government’s offer of the “right of return” to the descendants of Jews expelled in 1492 is a “bit late, but nevertheless worthy of praise” says Rabbi Pinchas Godlschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis.   The Rabbi was responding to Spain’s new law – approved by the cabinet on Feb. 7th — granting citizenship to all those who can prove their Sephardic origin.    The law amends a previous version announced in 2012, which granted citizenship only to qualified Sephardic Jews and did not allow them to retain other citizenships. The old law also did not extend to the descendants of those coerced to convert to Catholicism, known as Marranos (swine in Spanish).

The current version of the law – still to be ratified by the Parliament — is seen as a way to “correct a historical wrong” for the expulsion of Jews from Spain.   What of the unknown number of Muslims and their descendants expelled?

The Edict of Expulsion (also known as the Alhambra Decree) issued on March 31, 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) ordered Jews to convert or to leave the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon.   This was just after the fall of Muslim Grenada in January 1492.  A decade or so after the fall and the Alhambra Decree, Muslims were also forced to convert or leave.  In fact, between 1609 (Valencia) and 1614 (Castile), even those Muslims who had converted to Christianity and their descendants (the Moriscos) were forcibly thrown out.  Between 275,000 and 350,000 people left and mostly settled in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said the law has a deep historic meaning but that it also “reflects the reality of Spain as an open and plural society.”   An openness that apparently does not extend to Muslims.  In 2006 a left-wing party in the Andalusian parliament sought to introduce a bill granting Spanish citizenship to the descendants of Moriscos.  The bill failed.  The double standard is not lost on many Muslims and descendants of Moriscos particularly those in Spain and North Africa.

Representatives of the Moriscos in Morocco and Algeria have already written to Spanish Authorities. Najib Loubaris, the president of L’Association pour la Mémoire des Andalous, a group representing Moroccan Moriscos strongly chastised the Spanish government.  The government “should grant the same rights to all those who were expelled”, Loubaris is quoted in the Guardian. “Otherwise the decision is selective, not to mention racist.” The call is echoed by Spain’s leading Islamic group the Junta Islámica.

While many of the descendants of the Jews may return, consulates in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have reportedly already been flooded with requests; the situation with Muslims may be different.     It is not known exactly how many Muslims stayed underground and how many left.  Moreover, it will be difficult for most Muslim descendants to trace their ancestry because they melted away in Spain or wherever they ended up unlike the Jews who kept to themselves out of fear of further persecution.  Moreover, according to University of Cordoba law Professor, Antonio Manuel Rodríguez Ramos, it is unlikely that the government will encourage the investigation into Muslim descendants.  He argues though hundreds of thousands left, the majority did not leave but rather stayed back and “created a culture that can be described as most authentic and most Hispanic.”   He suggests digging too deep into Muslim descendants would simply highlight a truth that most Spaniards would like to ignore. “The danger is that we will have to recognize that the majority of the Spanish population is of Muslim descent,” says the Professor. “It’s an effort to hide our history, to hide our memory.”

With respect to the Jews expelled and their descendants, Rabbi Goldschmidt argued that in addition to this right of return, they need an official apology and that all Jewish monuments now being used as museums and churches be re-assigned again for Jewish use and control to “amend the historical mistakes.”

Whatever the truth of the matter with respect to Muslims, echoing the Rabbi, Spain must apologize to Muslims and their descendants and restore their monuments.

Though merely symbolic, such a move would go a long way to close out a dark chapter in Spanish history and give due regard to peoples whose legacies contribute immensely to the cultural heritage and tourist coffers of the nation to this day.

Faisal Kutty is an assistant professor of law at Valparaiso University Law School and an adjunct professor of law Osgoode Hall Law of York University in Toronto. Follow him at Twitter@FaisalKutty.

Faisal Kutty is an assistant professor and director of the International LL.M. Program at Valparaiso University Law School in Indiana. He is also an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto.

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?