Swastikas painted in Rio Jewish neighbourhood

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) – Three swastikas were found painted on walls in a Rio de Janeiro neighbourhood most heavily populated with middle-class and elderly Jews.

The president of the Rio Jewish federation, Paulo Maltz, filed a police report Wednesday about the anti-Semitic graffiti in the Copacabana section, which has several synagogues, a Jewish day school and community centers, as well as federation headquarters and the honorary Israeli consulate.

Maltz, a lawyer, told JTA a group of young people covered the swastikas with white paint and the third would be “erased” this week.

“The most important is that the crime be investigated and the responsible be brought to trial,” he said.

The graffiti was found on Siqueira Campos Street, an important axis that crosses the neighborhood connecting a main tunnel and the iconic Copacabana beach, near a busy subway station.

The incident was first reported Monday by the 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 at 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 he was “just kidding.”

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