Brazil sets panel to probe neo-Nazism

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Brazil has established a special commission to investigate neo-Nazi incidents in the country.

The Chamber of Deputies, which includes 513 representatives from 26 states, created the commission June 2 following a series of recent neo-Nazi incidents in the country.

Last month, Brazilian police thwarted a plan by a neo-Nazi group called New Land to bomb two synagogues in the city of Porto Alegre. In addition, a large quantity of neo-Nazi materials has been seized mainly in the southern states, which are known to have a large concentration of Brazilians of both German and Arab descent.

Marcelo Itagiba, a Jewish congressman, will lead the commission. He also is the author of a bill that would consider Holocaust denial and other crimes against humanity a crime of racism.

"The creation of this external commission is of great importance for the parliament to follow the development of the investigations, which need to generate a harsh response to the neo-Nazis who intend to articulate and disseminate hatred across our national territory," said Itagiba.

The Brazil Israelite Confederation, the country’s umbrella for Jewish organizations, praised the initiative.

"We need a broad mobilization in our society to fight racism and violence, and to protect our several communities from racial hatred, as well as to preserve our democracy," said Claudio Lottenberg, the confederation president.

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