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The leader of Majorca has become the first government official to apologise for the execution of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition ? centuries after the events.
Jews receive apology over Spanish Inquisition executions
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Francesc Antich, the regional president of the Balearic Islands, issued an official condemnation of the killings in what was heralded by Jewish groups as the first of its kind in Spain.

"We have dared to gather here to recognise the grave injustice committed against those Majorcans who were accused, persecuted, charged and condemned to death for their faith and their beliefs," Mr Antich said at a memorial service held in Palma de Majorca.

At the end of the 15th century King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella set up the Spanish Inquisition to root out remnants of Islam and Judaism after the reconquest of Spain. Over the following two centuries thousands of so-called heretics were burned at the stake.

Following the order to convert or leave the country, the majority of Spain's Jews fled to safer shores while many of those left behind publicly converted to Roman Catholicism yet practised their true faith in secret.

Thirty-four Jews were garroted and their bodies thrown on to bonfires in 1691. Three others, including a rabbi, were burned alive.

Mr Antich said the purpose of the recognition was to "recover part of that memory" of Majorca's dark past and recognise the violence and discrimination that converts faced for centuries.

An estimated 15,000 people living in Majorca are thought to be descendants of the island's Jews, though almost all are Catholic.

The Israel-based group that came up with the proposal for the ceremony lauded the event as "an important gesture of reconciliation".

By Fiona Govan
, in Madrid

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