CURITIBA, Brazil (Sep. 12)
A Jewish candidate for governor of the Brazilian state of Parana has become the target of anti-Semitic attacks.
Vandals sprayed anti-Jewish slogans on the wall of the Jewish cemetery and on 15 billboards advertising the candidacy of Jaime Lerner last week.
Lerner, who is leading in his race for governor of Parana, is the former mayor of Curitiba, capital of this southern state.
Under his leadership, the city earned a reputation as the most progressive and livable big city in Brazil.
The graffiti called Lerner “Jew and anti-Christ.”
In addition to being targeted by graffiti, Lerner was also labeled “anti-Christian” on radio and television.
Vincent Goulart, an evangelical minister who is running for state deputy in the same elections, said during a political broadcast that Lerner could be compared with historic figures who had been against God and were therefore “punished.” Among those he mentioned were Lenin and Hitler.
The president of the Brazilian Evangelical Center, Pastor Gilberto Estevao later condemned Goulart’s remarks, and said Goulert does not represent the Order of Evangelical Ministers in Brazil.
“In truth,” Estevao said, “the Jews are our ancestors in our faith. The God of the Jews and of the Christians is the same, as shown in the Scriptures.”
Lerner used his broadcasting time to say: “Contrary to the hateful and discriminatory words of my adversaries, contrary to those who try to transform the holy Bible into an electoral leaflet, I want to respond with calmness, with my belief in humanist ideals, and with faith in God common to all of us.”
Lerner’s opponent in the gubernatorial race, Alvaro Dias, had earlier addressed the electorate as “Christian people in my state of Parana.” However, his campaign spokesperson told local newspapers that he condemned the anti-Semitic graffiti.
Lerner said he considered the graffiti against him “stupid and perverted,” and that there is no place for religion in the electoral race.