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Citizenship bid fails in trick question scandal

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Citizenship bid fails in trick question scandal
Many of the street traders across Spain are African immigrants. Photo: Ira Smirnova
11:17 CEST+02:00
A Senegalese man living in the southern Spanish city of Almería is appealing a legal decision that saw his application for Spanish citizenship denied because he did not know the name of the wife of the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

“Magou Ndoye has been living in Spain for close to fifteen years,” Ndoye’s lawyer Marcelo Quilez Ochoa told The Local.

“But when he applied for Spanish citizenship at his local registry office, his application was rejected.”

Quilez explained to The Local that when people apply for citizenship in Spain, they must answer a series of questions demonstrating they have “integrated into Spanish society”.

The interview takes about ten minutes and involves 30 questions. 

Applicants are expected to get a score of 27 or above, according to Quilez.

“Ndoye answered almost all questions correctly,” said the lawyer for the Senegalese man who makes his living as a street trader.

“He was asked things like the colour of the Spanish flag and the name of King’s wife. Then the public servant conducting the interview asked Ndoye about name of the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

“When he didn’t know this, his application was turned down,” said Quilez.

Rajoy is married to a woman named Elvira Fernández Balboa.

However, the Spanish leader’s wife has a very low public profile and is rarely seen on television.

“Even I wouldn’t have known her name,” admits the immigration lawyer who has taken on Ndoye’s case.

Quilez believed the decision on the part of Almería’s civil authorities not to grant Ndoye citizenship was "unreasonable" and he helped Ndoye to appeal the decision.

The mayor of Ndoye’s neighbourhood also agreed and signed a document to that effect, reported El Diario newspaper on Monday.

“Magou Ndoye is integrated into Spanish society and has shown good conduct while adapting to Spanish customs,” wrote Mari Carmen Benigna Díaz, mayor of Alemería’s sixth district.

Spain’s Ministry of Justice also felt the decision may have been unjustified.

The ministry even waived the €400 in judicial fees which would normally be required to review the case.

However. Ndoye still had to pay €568 in legal costs required to present his appeal.

“The decision in this case is a grave injustice to the applicant and rejecting his application for citizenship because of a supposed insufficient level of integration that has nothing to do with the reality of the situation goes against our ideas a state based on rights’” said Madrid judge Carmen Pérez Saavedra in writing.

“He’s a very serious person,” said Quilez of his client. “He’s very proper and hard-working and he pays his taxes.

“Ndoye’s also very responsible and like most Senegalese people in this country, he doesn’t want any problems."

The Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing Ndoye's case.

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