Lisbon witnesses Portugal’s biggest ever xenophobic demo

In what is believed to be the largest concentration of the extreme right in Portugal, according to PNR, protestors met with left wing groups and crowds of curious onlookers, while Polícia de Segurança Pública (PSP) special forces, kept the two sides apart with the help of police dogs. Generally, the march went off peacefully, although there were moments of tension when a group of hard-core skinheads, believed to be neo-Nazis, began screaming and saluting in the Nazi style, while left wing opponents screamed back “25th April forever”.

“We’re not racist as people like to think. We just cannot accept that there are streets in Lisbon where Portuguese people cannot walk in safety, because they are in the hands of mafias and drug dealers,” said José Pinto Coelho, leader of PNR.

“We are here to support the FN, with whom we have so much in common, because we all agree that we have to do something about the rising level of criminal behaviour. This is a peaceful demonstration, but you can bet that there will be a lot more in the future,” he said.

FNP’s Mário Machado, one of the organisers of the march, likened immigration to a crime by saying, “the government has to send all these immigrants home. Nationality is inherited, it can’t be bought”. He added that children under 12 shouldn’t be immune to punishment because “there are children of that age who steal”.

Before the short march to Rossio, skinheads observed a minute’s silence for the Portuguese murdered in South Africa and the Portuguese living on the Sintra line, who are “afraid to leave their homes”.

Recently, thousands of sun worshippers on Carcavelos beach were robbed by, according to the police, “mixed-race teenage gangs” who come from “problem neighbourhoods in and around the Sintra line” (read last week’s report in The Resident ‘500 attack Carcavelos beach’).

Sampaio wants change to Nationality Law

President Jorge Sampaio has called for children of immigrants born in Portugal to be given the right to Portuguese nationality. Sampaio defended changing the Nationality Law because he said “there are people born in the country who do not have any nationality at all”.

Currently, children of foreigners born in Portugal are given their parents’ nationality or, alternatively, the child is described on the register of births as having “unknown nationality”. The President makes clear he wants to end this situation and give Portuguese citizenship to the children of immigrants who are born here.

Speaking in Cova da Moura, a troubled area of Lisbon, Sampaio also condemned acts of “intolerance, racism and xenophobia”, a reference to last weekend’s far right demonstration in Lisbon.

“Portugal is proud of being a tolerant country. In the past, other countries have welcomed our immigrants, just as we, too, have welcomed other peoples and other cultures during our 30 years of democracy,” he stressed.

Sampaio also called for the urgent revamping of the Cova da Moura district. “As with so many other areas of the country, and especially those on the outskirts of metropolitan districts, Cova da Moura grew in a disorderly fashion, without any type of effective intervention,” he said. The President of Amadora Câmara, Joaquim Raposo, also appealed to the government for his council to be considered “an exceptional case”.