Confront Systemic Racism and Xenophobia That Kills

Target:  Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of Portugal

Goal: Prevent minorities from falling victim to acts of discrimination and brutal violence.

A black family is assaulted at a bus station. The head of an anti-racism organization receives a letter stating, “our goal is to kill every foreigner and every anti-fascist.” A prominent football player abandons a game after repeated racist violent slurs are hurled at him.  And a black actor is killed in what authorities call “an explicitly racially motivated crime.”  These troubling incidents represent some of the more well-known cases in what has become a disturbing trend of racist and xenophobic behavior across Portugal.

Activists fear that if left unchecked and unrebuked, these actions could spur radicalization and terrorism. Just as in other parts of the world, extreme far-right elements have grabbed power and inspired inflammatory and dangerous rhetoric in Portugal. One recently elected candidate, for example, has called for a “drastic reduction” of Muslims while frequently telling his political rival to “go back to her country.” He has also appointed employees with ties to neo-Nazism. The response from Portuguese leadership has been lackadaisical at best.  Only three instances of racial- or ethnic-based discrimination and violence have resulted in any kind of legal punishment over a four-year period.

Sign the petition below to demand Portugal protect all its citizens, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic origin.


Dear President Rebelo de Sousa,

Bruno Candé, the actor murdered due to alleged racist violence, is the most enduring symbol of Portugal’s needed reckoning with racism and xenophobia. This nation is far from the only country to witness the rise of far-right extremism, even amongst its most prominent citizens. You can, however, chart a different and better course going forward.

Racism is an ugly word, but it is one that cannot be ignored. The unsettling fact that only three alleged perpetrators of racial discrimination and violence have been held to account in four years suggests that this critical issue has in fact been dismissed by leadership. Denial and willful blindness are no longer acceptable excuses.

Please advocate for stronger legal standards and work towards a clear plan to address institutional, systemic racism before another life is destroyed or taken far too soon.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Horacio Villalobos


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