Swastikas Scrawled in Rio’s Copacabana

BRAZIL – Just weeks before the Olympic Games opening ceremony, three swastikas have been discovered, painted on walls in Copacabana this week, the Rio neighborhood most heavily populated with middle-class and elderly Jews.

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Rio Jewish Federation president, Paulo Maltz, who is a lawyer, on Wednesday filed a police report about the racial and ethnic crime. Copacabana is the area in Rio with the largest number of Jewish institutions, including several synagogues, a Jewish day school, community centers, as well the very headquarters of the federation and the honorary Israeli consulate.

“In the meantime, two swastikas were covered with white paint. The third one will be erased during this week,” Maltz said. “The most important is that the crime be investigated and the responsible be brought to trial.”

The anti-Semitic graffiti was found on Siqueira Campos Street, an important axis that crosses the neighborhood connecting a main tunnel and the iconic Copacabana beach, close to a busy subway station. The incident was first reported Monday by Alef News newspaper after Jewish readers photographed the swastikas.

The Rio Jewish Federation has opened a Whatsapp number to receive information on anti-Semitic cases. Anti-Semitic graffiti is not uncommon in Rio.

In 2011, a 23-year-old student was charged for boasting of a leg tattoo of a swastika during a party inside the Brazilian Israelite Club, which is located only a few blocks from the site where the swastikas were found this week. A confessed Hitler sympathizer, he declared to be “just kidding”.

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