(April 16, 2018 / JNS) A representative from Ethiopia in the annual Israel Independence Day Bible Quiz was granted residency status and given an Israeli ID card after a public backlash to news that he had been forced to deposit money with immigration and border control officials as a guarantee that he would leave the country following the contest.
Sintayehu Shaparou, a member of the Falash Mura—or Beta [House of] Israel community who were forced to convert to Christianity in Ethiopia—is in Israel to participate in the competition, but was required by the Interior Ministry to give money to officials that he would reclaim only upon departure from Israel. Shaparou’s father and siblings immigrated to Israel 17 years ago, while Shaparou and his mother awaited approval with his mother and some siblings in Ethiopia, though the approval never came.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri invited Shaparou to the Interior Ministry central office in Jerusalem, where he presented the 18-year-old with his new Israeli residency papers, saying that he “felt deeply about his situation,” and the ministry “decided to give him residence status in Israel and a temporary identity card.”
Deri said Shaparou’s mother and two other siblings are also to be provided with similar documentation.