From Correio da Bahia, October 8, 2001
Andreia Santana

Recent offensives against Candomblé terreiros in the town of Tancredo Neves have motivated the protest

Religious intolerance and disrespect to the freedom of worship protected by the Brazilian Constitution, that has led members of an evangelical church to attack Candomblé terreiros in the area of Tancredo Neves, generated a protest by a diverse group of Salvador’s black organizations yesterday morning. Congregated in the doorway of the Terreiro Vila São Roque, one of the Afro-culthouses offended by members of the International Church of God’s Grace, representatives of organizations such as the Grupo Alerta Pernambués (GAP), Unegro, Movimento Negro Unificado (MNU) and the Centro Baiano Anti-Aids, carried out an act of solidarity with the offended terreiros. After the act, they walked through the streets of the quarter, aiming at to call the population’s attention to the problem.

According to Luis Carlos Santos Lima, coordinator of GAP, the organization that planned the protest, the aggressions to the terreiros continue. In Castelo Branco, a group of evangelists took advantage of a ceremony known as “saída das iaôs” to provoke confusion by using offensive language. In Tancredo Neves, beyond the Vila São Roque, where about two weeks a group of evangelists threw sulphur and salt on the terreiro’s walls, the Afro-culthouse known as Tumbemsi also suffered verbal aggressions.

Complaint – “They are invading the terreiros to distribute pamphlets that say absurd things like that Candomblé is the religion of the devil and that all who practice Candomblé will become ashes in the fires of the hell,” disclosed Luis Carlos. Based on the law against racism, since Afro-Brazilian culthouses are the only ones under attack, and in the Federal Constitution, the terreiros of Tancredo Neves have already filed complaints with the Public Ministry. “We cannot tolerate that attitudes such as these continue to propagate themselves. Candomblé has been the focus of resistance for the 500 years of black presence in Brazil. In Candomblé, discrimination of unheard of, the women in terreiro have as much power as the men. The feeling of collectivity and community is also very strong, and have strongly influenced the preservation of family values, as during slavery parents were separated from their children to destroy the self esteem of the peoples brought here by force,” pointed out Olívia Santana, representative of the Unegro.

Although horrified with the acts of vandalism against her house, Juciara Brito, ialorixá of Vila São Roque, reminds the aggressors about Candomblé’s foundations, that has as one of its basic principles tolerance with all creeds: “the terreiros are always open to receive all those who come to them, regardless of their religion. Our children are not forbidden to have other beliefs. Out of curiosity I once attended an evangelical prayer session and found it pretty,” declared Mae Juciara.

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