Portugal initiates memorial day for victims of Inquisition

The number of victims during the Portuguese Inquisition is estimated to be around 40,000.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News.

The Portuguese Parliament has decided to designate March 31 as the official Memorial Day for Victims of the Portuguese Inquisition.

The decision was influenced in part by the efforts of Reconectar, an organization that helps reconnect descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities.

“This is a historic and important decision, because finally there will be official memorialization of the tens of thousands of victims of the Inquisitorial regime which hounded and hunted our people for 275 years,” said Reconectar president Ashley Perry.

In 1536 the Catholic Church, at the behest of Portugal’s King John III, initiated the inquisition following a mass influx of Spanish Jews into the country who fled from the Spanish Inquisition.

As a result of forced conversions, expulsions and persecution by the Inquisition, many hundreds of thousands of Jews were brutally and forcibly cut off from their people.

The number of victims during the Portuguese Inquisition is estimated to be around 40,000.

“Unfortunately, in recent years the terminology and memory of the Inquisition have become debased somewhat because of its usage in popular parlance and even for comedic purposes,” Perry said.

“However, it was one of the most traumatic events in Jewish history and its effects are still felt today, so hopefully this day will help people understand the brutality, effect and significance of this evil regime.”

“I hope other nations, like Spain and Israel, will follow suit and also pass days to commemorate the victims of the Inquisition,” he added.

According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it has been conservatively estimated through academic research and DNA testing that there are many tens of millions of the descendants of Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal around the globe, mostly in North and South America and Europe.