Passport

Michele Bachmann is no longer Swiss

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's 53 days of Swiss citizenship have apparently come to an end:

"I sent a letter to the Swiss Consulate requesting withdrawal of my dual Swiss citizenship, which was conferred upon me by operation of Swiss law when I married my husband in 1978," she said. "I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen. I am, and always have been, 100 percent committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America. As the daughter of an Air Force veteran, stepdaughter of an Army veteran and sister of a Navy veteran, I am proud of my allegiance to the greatest nation the world has ever known."

The statement seems slightly misleading. According to the original Politico story,  which included confirmation from Bachmann's office, she became Swiss not in 1978 but in March after her husband applied for citizenship. Marcus Bachmann had been eligible for citizenship since birth because of his parents' nationality, but hadn't claimed it until this year. 

I'm not sure what the requirements are for renouncing Swiss citizenship and the migration office's website is not particularly helpful, but for U.S. citizenship it's kind of a hassle:

During a 10-minute renunciation ceremony in a booth with bullet-proof glass windows, embassy staff ask exiting Americans whether they are acting voluntarily and understand the implications of giving up their passports. They pay a fee of $450 to renounce and may incur an “exit tax” on unrealized capital gains if their assets exceed $2 million or their average annual U.S. tax bill is more than $151,000 during the past five years. They receive a certificate within three months, telling them they are no longer American citizens and entitled to the services and protection of the U.S. government.

It should be noted that for immigrants to Switzerland, and even children of immigrants born in Switzerland, getting Swiss citizenship is not nearly as easy as it apparently was for the Bachmanns.   

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Passport

A Jewish pilgrimage returns to Tunisia

Though the powerful and prominent Islamist Ennahda party has sent mixed messages about its attitude toward Tunisia's 1,500-strong Jewish population,  President Moncef Marzouki's government has made an extraordinary effort this year to promote the Hiloula, an annual pilgrimage to El Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba that commemorates the death of second-century rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, the father of the Kabbalah tradition. The two-day event was canceled last year for security reasons due to the popular uprisings that ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, but it remains "the barometer of expectations for the coming tourist season," according to the Guardian.

Before the revolution, the Hiloula typically brought "almost 10,000 foreign visitors" every year, but the website Tunisia Live reported yesterday that the numbers are significantly smaller this year:

"So far, no more than two hundred Jewish pilgrims have joined the Hiloula.... According to our reporter in El Ghriba, police and journalists outnumbered the pilgrims, mainly Jewish Tunisians, who attended the event."

The Tunisian government has deployed a large security force to the area surrounding the synagogue, the oldest in Africa.  Ten years ago, al Qaeda militants bombed the synagogue, killing 21 and wounding 30. Marzouki visited El Ghriba in April for a memorial ceremony, during which he declared that violence against Tunisian Jews was "unacceptable." Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali also voiced his commitment to a tolerant Tunisia:

"Tunisia is an open and tolerant society, we will be proud to have Jewish pilgrims visit El Ghriba as they have in the past."

The government of Israel, on the other hand, apparently sees things differently. The Israeli Prime Minister's Office issued a travel warning earlier this month advising Israelis to avoid Djerba, citing a "specific-high rating" terror threat to Jews and Israelis. Hiloula may end today, but whether Marzouki can convince the rest of the country to practice what he preaches remains uncertain.

FETHI BELAID/AFP/GettyImages