‘Expelled Muslims should get citizenship too’

Descendants of the Muslims who were kicked out of Spain in the 17th century have criticized the Spanish government for only granting citizenship to the country's former Jewish population, saying the move could be "racist".

'Expelled Muslims should get citizenship too'
Moriscos, meaning Moorish in English, was the name given to the Spanish Muslims who decided to convert to Christianity to avoid expulsion. Photo: Cordoba Mosque -122/Flickr

Moriscos, meaning Moors in English, was the name given to the Spanish Muslims who decided to convert to Christianity to avoid expulsion under monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand in the early 1500s.

Although they were allowed to remain in Spain for over a century longer than their Jewish counterparts, King Philip III decreed the Expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609, forcing them all to flee to neighbouring Muslim North Africa.

Now that Spain’s Justice Ministry has decided to grant citizenship to the descendants of the Sephardi Jews who were kicked out 522 years ago, associations fighting to keep the memory of Muslim Spain alive are calling for the same civil code changes for the Moriscos.

“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.

Loubaris still believes the ruling granting citizenship to Spain’s Sephardi Jews is “very positive”, arguing it acts as acknowledgment of the “guilt of the Spanish State in expelling its own citizens”.

Even though the descendants of Spain's Moriscos have less chance of obtaining dual nationality than Sephardi Jews, Loubaris’s association is primarily focussed on obtaining recognition for what happened to Spain's Muslim population and how they left their mark on Spanish culture.

This can be seen in physical form with the Grand Mosque of Cordoba and the Alhambra Palace in Granada.

Their legacy is predominantly alive in the northern Moroccan cities of Fez, Rabat and Tetouan, where they became city aristocrats and occupied positions of power.

Although the approximately 300,000 Morisco descendants in Northern Africa no longer speak Castilian Spain, they took with them the architecture, gastronomy and music which typifies Andalusia to this day. 

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The little-known process you have to do when you become a Spanish citizen

Foreigners who've continuously resided in Spain for ten years have the option of applying for Spanish citizenship. But what happens when your get you new Spanish DNI number? How do you change all your documents over to your new nationality?

The little-known process you have to do when you become a Spanish citizen

Here’s how to request the change of your Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) for your new Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI), if you have obtained Spanish nationality. 

The process of becoming a Spanish national is lengthy and you will have to pass two exams to get it – the DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a foreign language) test and the CCSE citizenship test, testing your knowledge of Spain’s Constitution, its society and its cultural heritage.

READ ALSO – Quiz: Can you pass the Spanish citizenship test?

But what about when you’ve passed both tests, you’ve gained your Spanish nationality and you’re finally holding that Spanish national identity card, the DNI in your hand?

In order for your DNI to really take effect, you’ll have to change your NIE for your new DNI number. To do this, you will have to carry out a series of procedures to update all the official paperwork and verify your identity. 

READ ALSO – Step by step: how to apply for Spanish nationality

How to make the exchange 

To carry out this procedure, you must notify the Social Security office, so they can change your number and your nationality. This procedure can be carried out electronically using your Digital Certificate or [email protected] here

Via the above link to the Social Security office, you must fill out the Modelo TA.1 form to make the exchange. You will need to fill out all your personal details, as well as include copies of your old NIE and your new DNI.  

Certificate of proof

You will also need to apply for a Certificado de Concordancia at the foreign office of your nearest National Police station. When you are making a cita previa or prior appointment to do this, you should choose the option (Certificados de Residencia, de no Residencia y de Concordancia).

This certificate is used to prove that you are the same person who now has a Spanish DNI. You can use it at various official places such as the tax office, Town Hall, the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) office, banks and any other administrative offices.

You can now inform other authorities of your exchange, including the tax office or Agencia Tributaria as well as your local Town Hall or Ayuntamiento. You will also need to request a new padrón certificate, stating your new nationality.

Other official offices you should inform of the change include your bank, your notary if you bought a property using your NIE, and the DGT office, if you need to change your driving licence too.  

READ ALSO: What are the reasons for losing Spanish residency or nationality and can I get it back?