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Neo-Nazis thrive in Rio suburbs

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 11 (JTA) – Rio’s most popular newspaper sounded an alarm recently: Neo-Nazism is alive and thriving in the city’s suburbs.

The report in the O Dia newspaper confirmed what many in the Jewish community long have feared.

Other members of the community, however, believe the report gave lunatic fringe groups too much publicity.

According to the report, some of the neo-Nazi groups are getting stronger.

One group, the National Socialist Party, was created in 1988 by a former official in the Brazilian navy, Armando Zanine Jr.

It and other similar groups have been creating neo-Nazi Internet sites, and they may be responsible for the recent theft of mezuzahs from local synagogues.

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists had planned to meet in southern Brazil for a rock festival celebrating Hitler’s 112th birthday, the paper reported.

Authorities canceled the festival this week.

Those who can’t afford to live in the wealthy neighborhoods where most of Rio’s Jewish community lives say they are at the mercy of alleged anti- Semites.

The Tenenbaums are the only Jews left in their apartment building in a modest neighborhood of Rio.

Last year the family received letters under its door with messages such as “Jews out of here, son of a bitch, we are going to kill you pork Jews,” signed by Friends of Hitler. The family’s mezuzah also was stolen twice, and people sometimes urinate on their door, Ricardo Tenenbaum said.

Police did not want to register the case as racial discrimination, Tenenbaum said.

An Israel Defense Force veteran, Tenenbaum keeps a gun at home and his sons are studying self-defense.

Directors of the local Jewish federation lunched this week with the secretary of security, Col. Josias Quintal, who promised that all anti-Semitic crime would be investigated.

Still, Jewish leaders appear to have little faith in the willingness of Brazilian police to deal diligently with the problem.

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