There were few reports of societal discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, and prominent societal leaders took positive steps to promote religious freedom.
In late August a Manaus city councilman published on his personal blog a photo montage of a Jewish politician’s face on the body of Adolf Hitler wearing a Nazi uniform. Despite the councilman’s claim that it was a “bad joke,” the Israeli Committee of the Amazon, an organization of Jewish communities of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, asserted that comparing Jews to Hitler and the Nazis was anti-Semitic and offensive. The Jewish politician filed suit in the electoral court and won, but did not press civil or criminal charges.
Adherents of Umbanda and Candomble reported discrimination based on religious belief. A Rio de Janeiro police officer, who heads Rio’s office for investigating crimes of religious intolerance, estimated that Umbanda and Candomble followers were victims of 97 percent of religious intolerance crimes.
On June 17, during the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, an estimated 2,000 Brazilians including Jews, homosexuals, Afro-Latin Americans, and human right activists protested the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One of the signs in English read “Religious intolerance is not acceptable.” Earlier, representatives of the Brazilian Jewish community organization, the Israeli Confederation of Brazil (CONIB), urged President Rousseff not to meet with Ahmadinejad because of his repeated denials of the Holocaust, among other reasons.
There was no formal national interfaith movement; however, there were many interfaith efforts, such as Abraham’s Path Initiative, an international, interfaith UN-endorsed NGO. Abraham’s Path sponsored annual “friendship runs” that brought Jews, Christians, and Muslims together in an effort to increase understanding; over 4,500 persons participated in Sao Paulo.
The Commission to Combat Religious Intolerance in Rio de Janeiro, in partnership with Rio de Janeiro State University, brought together diverse religious and nonreligious groups, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Spiritualists, and atheists. On September 16, the commission organized the 5th Annual Walk for the Defense of Religious Freedom held in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. At the event, various leaders spoke about the importance of religious freedom. In July an estimated 335,000 evangelical Christians participated in the 20th annual “March for Jesus” in Sao Paulo. This was the largest of many similar evangelical Christian events that took place.
The National Commission for Religious Dialogue, created in 1981 by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, continued to bring together Christian and Jewish groups. The Catholic Church’s Sao Paulo’s House of Reconciliation hosted monthly meetings with the Jewish community as part of the commission’s work. During the year, the House of Reconciliation initiated religious dialogues with other religions, such as Islam and Candomble.
Ecumenical movements and organizations, such as the National Council of Christian Churches, continued to bring together Catholics and Protestants. The Group of Ecumenical Reflection and Interreligious Dialogue also promoted ecumenical dialogue between different church denominations at the national and regional levels. The World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Council of Churches, and the Council for World Mission convened an ecumenical conference in Guarulhos from September 29 through October 5.