Last week I favorably reviewed the Brazilian comedy The First Temptation of Christ that has drawn protests from Christian groups because of its suggestion that Jesus may have been gay. Now the protests have spawned violent offshoots that have attacked the filmmakers’ offices with firebombs.
Police are investigating a fire-bomb attack on the Rio de Janeiro office of a production company behind a controversial Christmas special aired on streaming service Netflix.
The episode, by comedy group Porta dos Fundos, depicts a gay Jesus bringing a boyfriend home to meet his family.
More than 2.3m people have signed an online petition to remove the film.
A video circulating online appears to show a far-right religious group claiming responsibility for the attack.
In it, a group wearing ski masks and identifying itself as the “Popular Nationalist Insurgency Command of the Large Brazilian Integralist Family”, appear to attack the production company offices with Molotov cocktails.
A statement, read with a digitally disguised voice, criticises Netflix and describes the film as blasphemous.
It also includes flags with nationalist and fascist connotations, Reuters news agency reports.
The video circulated on Christmas Day – one day after Porta dos Fundos (Back Door) announced their office had been attacked.
No-one was hurt in the early-hours incident and a security guard was able to extinguish the blaze, the group said.
In a tweet they said, in Portuguese, that they were confident that the country would “survive this torment of hatred, and love will prevail together with freedom of expression”.
You can be sure that these people are not protesting the film because of concerns over historical accuracy because we have no idea what the facts are about Jesus or if he even existed. These people are clearly offended by the suggestion that Jesus may have been gay, as if there was something wrong with that. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the gospels that would need to be changed if Jesus were indeed gay.
Brazil is now governed by an right-wing authoritarian government and the president Jair Bolsonaro has attacked the media and pretty much everyone else who criticizes him. The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald who lives in Brazil and published an expose based on leaked documents that showed the corruption in the ‘Car Wash’ scandal that distorted the legal system and was used to sideline popular leftist leaders Lula and Dilma Rousseff, now has to have an armed escort when he goes anywhere. He describes it in a letter emailed to supporters of The Intercept.
At a high-profile event in Brazil where I was recently invited to speak about The Intercept’s work, organizers were so concerned about threats of violence that they required me to arrive by a small boat, rather than by land.
As we arrived, we had fireworks shot at us by supporters of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro. This continued throughout my speech, and one firework landed in the crowd of 3,000 people and lit a flag on fire.
This is only the latest physical violence targeting me in retaliation for a series of exposés published in The Intercept revealing corruption at the highest levels of the Brazilian government. Since The Intercept began this reporting, neither my husband nor I have left our house once without a team of armed security guards and an armored vehicle.
Bolsonaro is very much in the mold of Donald Trump. They form a mutual admiration society that has emboldened their violent supporters.