The comedy troupe behind the controversial Netflix comedy that features Jesus as a gay man bringing home his partner to meet the Holy Family has had their offices fire-bombed, with a shadowy right-wing group claiming responsibility for the attack.
Police have images of four men involved in the attack, but do not know their identities. Authorities have formed a task force to investigate the matter and identify the group.
The group claiming credit for the attack, which identifies itself as “Popular Nationalist Insurgency Command of the Large Brazilian Integralist Family,” said in a video circulated on social media that it had carried out the attack using Molotov cocktails to torch the headquarters of the Porta dos Fundos comedy group in Rio de Janeiro. The men in the video wore masks to conceal their identities.
The video shows three men in black ski masks and dark green jumpsuits reading a statement in front of a flag bearing the Greek letter Sigma, a symbol used by Brazil’s integralist movement, which was inspired by 1930s-style European fascism, stressing Christianity, traditional values, authoritarian politics, and social conformity. The video also showed an Imperial Flag of Brazil, the national symbol under Brazil’s former monarchy, which has not been used since the 1800s, reports Reuters.
The statement, read aloud by the men on camera, criticizes Porta dos Fundos for The First Temptation of Christ, calling the comedy “blasphemy” perpetrated by left-wing Marxists seeking to weaken and divide the country. The men also criticize Netflix for airing the special.
Porta dos Fundos and Netflix have come under assault from social conservatives in Brazil who claim that Temptation is insulting and offensive to Christians. In response, more than 2 million people signed on to a Change.org petition calling for Netflix to remove the show.
Netfli has not responded to requests for comment on Temptation‘s content or the attack against Porta dos Fundos.
The comedy troupe said it hoped that the perpetrators would be caught and punished and that Brazil “will survive this storm of hatred.” The group previously issued a statement noting that it values artistic freedom and humor, and does not believe that censoring content is healthy for a functioning democracy.
Porta dos Fundos has also been attacked on Facebook by a mixture of right-wing sympathizers, Internet trolls, and proponents of censorship, who argue that the group makes fun of Christians, but is too afraid to criticize Islam — a right-wing trope that the troupe’s co-founder, Fábio Porchat, has debunked in an interview with Variety.
Brazil is home to the world’s largest Catholic population, as well as a rapidly growing evangelical Christian community. Both groups have been credited with successfully electing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has a history of making anti-LGBTQ remarks and has discouraged the Brazilian government from attempting to promote LGBTQ equality or combat human rights violations committed against LGBTQ people.
Juliano Medeiros, the leader of Brazil’s opposition PSOL party, urged the government to bring those involved in the fire-bombing to justice.
“If the authorities don’t give a rapid and fierce response against these types of acts, Brazil could spiral into a state of even more violence,” Medeiros said on Twitter.
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