Note from BW of Brazil: We must really ask ourselves, what the hell is going on in Rio de Janeiro? In numerous previous posts, we’ve brought you information on the incidents of violence and religious intolerance against leaders, followers, and temples of worship of the Afro-Brazilian religions Umbanda and Candomblé. But this month has been one of the deadliest ever seen! Nova Iguaçu is a city with a population of about 800,000 located in the greater metropolitan area of the city of Rio de Janeiro. This month alone has seen at least seven different vicious attacks on Afro-Brazilian religious temples in which premises and sacred objects of the religions were destroyed. (In the following videos, traffickers can be heard telling their victims to “quebra tudo” – ‘break everything’, with one visibly waving a baseball bat)
Pais and mães de santo (male and female spiritual leaders, or holy fathers and mothers) have been expelled from communities, adherents forbidden to wear their traditional white clothes and insignias of the orixás, and the faithful have been attacked with stones etc.
The criminal actions were videotaped by the traffickers themselves, followers of the Evangelical faith, and advertised on social networks. They even urinated on the sacred images, with the justification that “witchcraft” would not be allowed in the community. Also, in what appears to be the latest assault tactic, traffickers are forcing leaders of the Afro-Brazilian temples to destroy their own premises and objects at gunpoint or under threat with baseball bats!
The media had reported such attacks on other occasions for several years, but the events of recent weeks have been shocking due to the cruelty, associating, as denounced to the State Department of Human Rights, the actions of traffickers and militias in Rio de Janeiro terreiros to Evangelical pastors and churches. Sermons and videos by leaders of the churches have fomented hatred and violence against Afro-Brazilian religions for years but one must wonder when/if city officials will ever step in and put a stop to these hate crimes.
Nova Iguaçu registers the 7th attack on houses of Afro-Brazilian religions
Courtesy of O Dia
The attacks on terreiros (temples of worship) of Afro-Brazilian religions in the Baixada region are being ordered by traffickers. This is what claimants have been reporting in recent weeks to the ‘Dialogue Against Prejudice hotline’, a service created by the Secretariat of State for Human Rights and Policies for Women and the Elderly (SEDHMI).
“In these 20 days of operation, we have received testimony from people who are afraid to register with the police, for fear of being subjected to reprisals from the bandits. Many accuse traffickers of being responsible by the accusers,” said Attila Alexandre Nunes.
In Nova Iguaçu alone, seven religious houses have been depredated in the last two months. The last case happened this week. On Wednesday, visitors found the Candomblé terreiro Ilê Asé Togun Jobi, in the Parque Flora neighborhood, totally destroyed.
According to the secretary, the cases were generally treated by police as conventional thefts, since criminals, in addition to breaking sacred images, take valuables to hide the character of religious intolerance. However, he believes there are orchestrated attacks, which need to be investigated more deeply, and said that measures by Public Security are already beginning to be discussed.
The denunciations received at the Secretary’s office, according to Nunes, were sent to the 58th DP (precinct), responsible for the Posse region, in Nova Iguaçu.
The secretary also points out that he worries about damages to the image of evangelicals, since, according to the accusations, some criminals misuse the name of the religion to justify the attacks.
Nova Iguaçu has 253 houses of Umbanda and Candomblé, according to the secretary. In another episode a few weeks ago, the Kwe Cejá Danlomin Lojiquejil terreiro, at Rua Capitão Chaves, had a good part of its structure destroyed and burned. The Centro Espírita Unidos Pela Fé (United Spiritist Center For Faith), in the area of the 58th DP, was invaded and had religious elements broken. Images of saints and other pieces were stolen. In addition to the attacks on the terreiros, at the end of August, an elderly Candomble leader was stoned.
Deputy Atila Nunes, the head of the secretariat, met with the Secretary of Public Security, Roberto Sá, to discuss the installation of the Delegacia De Crimes Raciais e Delitos de Intolerância (Police Office for Racial Crimes and Crimes of Intolerance or Decradi) in an attempt to deal exclusively with these cases.
White clothes are prohibited.
For the sociologist and author of the book O sabá do sertão: feiticeiras, demônios e jesuítas no Piauí colonial, Carolina Rocha, cases of religious intolerance in communities are ancient. According to her, in Morro do Dendê, on Ilha do Governador (Rio state), residents who follow umbanda and candomblé were banned from wearing white clothes by chief drug dealers and orixá graffiti was erased from the walls. Sociologist Carolina regrets that some neo-Pentencostal religions come from principle that the world is a place of war.
The sociologist also explains that African-based religions are not expansionist, as they do not aim to seek the conversion of new adherents. Different from others that seek the urban environment, especially those of social precariousness.
For Ivanir dos Santos, of the Commission on Religious Intolerance and a Babalawo, religious leaders cannot remain silent about the growth of religious intolerance. “The climate among Afro-Brazilian believers is fear. The authorities need to do something effective to end these attacks.”
In recent months, Nova Iguaçu recorded seven depredations to terreiros of Afro-Brazilian religions. The last case of religious intolerance took place in the happened on Thursday in the region of Rio’s Baixada Fluminense, in the Ilê Asé Togun Jobi barracao. Photos sent to O Dia’sWhatsApp number (98762-8248) show the destruction of the site, which had images, furniture, religious objects, instruments and articles destroyed.
Rio police indict 10 traffickers for attacks on temples of African religion
By Marcela Lemos
Ten traffickers have already been indicted by the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police on suspicion of ordering or participating in attacks on Umbanda and Candomblé centers in the state. According to State Representative Carlos Minc, president of the Commission to Combat Discrimination, Racism, Religious Intolerance and LGBTfobia of the Alerj (Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro), the suspects are former prisoners who would have converted to other religions during the period of detention.
“I denounced the attacks orchestrated by traffickers a year and a half ago to the Attorney General’s Office. We realize that there is a mini Islamic state forming in Rio, an armed wing, as if there’s already not enough oppression in the communities, now this? They are traffickers destroying and oppressing religious freedom,” said the parliamentarian.
Still agreeing with Minc, many of the indictees belong to the TCP (Third Pure Command) (see note one). Among them is the trafficker Fernando Gomes de Freitas, 38, known as Fernandinho Guarabu, who has been in charge of drug trafficking for 13 years in Ilha do Governador, in Rio’s north zone.
A recent video circulating on social networks shows a man wearing a Jesus Christ shirt in the midst of a destroyed altar. In the images, he appears to be forced to disable cords of saints under the order of a suspected drug dealer who holds a baseball bat with the word “dialogue” written on it.
In the audio, the criminal says: “Next time, I’ll kill! What kind of white flag is this? A flag here is TCP or Jesus Christ. We don’t want macumba (voodoo) here. Advise him that I’m from Jesus. If I catch this again, I’m going to kill!”, he threatens. Another says, “It’s to smash them one by one, okay?”, referring to the cords.
Under threat, man breaks strings of saints in the midst of a destroyed temple
32 complaints in a month
According to data from the Secretaria de Estado de Direitos Humanos e Políticas para Mulheres e Idosos (Secretariat of State for Human Rights and Policies for Women and the Elderly), in less than a month, 32 complaints of religious intolerance were communicated to the ministry only in the last month. They are invasions of terreiros and prejudiced actions in public transportation, among others.
“It’s all being investigated, and the Police Office of Racial Crimes and Crimes of Intolerance (Decradi) is due to begin operations soon.” In São Paulo, this police station has been operating for three years, and it will be possible to speed up investigations into these types of cases,” said the Secretary of Human Rights, Attila Nunes.
The highest ranked delegate to take ownership of the new unit is Orlando Zaccone, which has a relationship with social movements.
In Brazil, the Disque 100 (dial 100) hotline received in 2011, 15 reports of acts of religious intolerance throughout the country. By 2016, the number jumped to 759.
“Imagine how many cases occur and we are not even aware of it. This is an important tool that needs to be better known to the citizen,” adds Nunes.
Evangelical traffickers make a mãe de santo destroy the terreiro ‘in the name of Jesus’
By Gilberto Garcia
75-year-old woman was forced to break sacred images of candomblé, threatened with a baseball bat.
In recent times, Rio de Janeiro has been experiencing a growing wave of cases involving religious intolerance. At the end of August, a 65-year-old candomble practitioner was hit with a stone and even heard from neighbors that she “got what she deserved.”
This time, Rio traffickers invaded a terreiro in Nova Iguaçu, in Baixada Fluminense, approached a 75-year-old mãe de santo and forced her to destroy all the images. The whole time the yororixá (religious leader) was under the threat of being beaten with a baseball bat, the criminals filmed all the action.
In the video, you can hear when traffickers use terms related to the Evangelical religion to justify their attitude. One man says that all images should be destroyed “in the name of Jesus” and even called the mãe de santo a “chief demon.” According to police, the old woman also had a kelê (collar used by religious initiates), torn from her neck with a revolver.
‘Break everything, break everything! Put out the candles, because the blood of Jesus has power! Smash all the guias! (see note two) All evil has to be undone, in the name of Jesus! Break it all down because you’re the one who’s the ‘chief demon’! It’s you who sponsor this mess! Break it all down! Break all the guias, drop it, I want you to break all the guias!” says the man, while the old woman was forced to destroy sacred images of candomblé.
- Terceiro Comando Puro is the second largest criminal organization operating in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
2. Worn by sons and daughters of the orixás (African deities), guias are strings of beads that are also called fios de contas in Portuguese, but often referred to as colares (meaning beads, necklaces, and guides).