Our Portuguese correspondent Afonso Henriques has compiled another report from Multicultural Portugal, drawn from both recent news stories and his own personal experience.
We’ll begin with censorship and then move on to the more violent forms of enrichment. The first news story — which is remarkably evocative of the recent controversy over the history of the Mohammed cartoon crisis to be published by Yale University Press —concerns the suppression by the publisher of a book about Yasser Arafat and Islam. According to the alternative news agency Novopress, as translated by Afonso:
Chiado Publisher Censors A Book About Islam
PORTUGAL (NOVOpress) — The publisher Chiado Editora decided to suspend the publication of a book that explores the topic of Islam.
The book entitled A Última Madrugada do Islão (“The Last Late Night of Islam — The conspiracy that killed Yasser Arafat and Islam”), by André Ventura, was the cause of threats against the publisher, this according to the primary justification of the very same Chiado Editora in relation the suspension of the edition.
…Now that publisher has revealed in a press release that it has in its possession “some comments and assessments that would force any respectable publisher in the world to reflect, to consider, and to measure the consequences of the publication of this book, in the Portuguese market or in any other market.”
The Chiado Publisher supposedly based its decision on negative comments by university professors such as Pablo Cortés from the University of Leicester and Olufemi Amao, from the University of Brunel [both the names and the universities are foreign — translator], and of “members of the Muslim community who purposely asked their names not to be divulged, fearing reprisals.”
The consulted personalities have considered that the book has “an ‘incendiary potential’ of ‘unpredictable consequences,’ because of the psychological and sexual circumstances that surround the figure of the prophet Mohammed, as well as the mention of real people and places related to the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
The last opinion was that of the “sheik” David Munir, responsible for the Central Mosque of Lisbon. The publisher rejected the idea that this request represented a kind of “prior censorship” and guaranteed that they “absolutely respect freedom of expression”, but underline, however, that freedom of expression “cannot be exercised without taking into account fundamental values like safety and the harmony of the community.”
In a time when freedom of expression is a hot topic, and after the President of the Republic had displayed a preoccupation with the case of Manuela Moura Guedes, it is still worrying that, apparently, a small religious community is able to boycott the publishing of a book, something that would be unthinkable had the theme in line been, for instance, Christianity.
Afonso adds this note:
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Manuela Moura Guedes is the host of the News of TVI, the fourth National Channel. It happens that she and the news staff of that channel were highly critical both of some of the policies of the Prime Minister and his person, revealing several cases in which the Prime Minister appeared to be guilty of corruption.
We’re in an election campaign right now, and in the last week or so a great team of journalists and others who were together for a long time on TVI (Manuela Moura Guedes being the main face) quit because they refused to work under the pressures they were subjected to. They claim the Prime Minister was trying to silence them.
Two weeks before that the Prime Minister said on the public channel: “Have you seen Friday’s TVI News? Do you think that is a news program? That’s not a news program, that is a manhunt. That is a travesty of a news program; that is a news program whose only goal is personal attacks based on hate and personal persecution.” Thus freedom of expression has been a hot topic, with some accusing the Prime Minister of being guilty of a “democratic asphyxia”.
Next is a culturally enriched killing, from the newspaper O Correio da Manhã (The Morning Mail) on Monday, 7 September:
Portimão (Algarve) The victim was abandoned late night in a pool of blood
“I’m gonna finish him now, man!”
“I’m gonna finish him now, man!” “No, Jorge, don’t kill him here!” Two altered voices, Brazilian accent [actually, by the way the sentences are made one senses it can only be South American Portuguese — translator], awakened Ernesto Belchior last late night. It was a little after 04.00 and the victim, a man in his 40s, was dying on the sidewalk close to the small river of Alvor, in Portimão. The man was kicked while on the ground. The crime was witnessed by an Englishman, with binoculars, from a boat. In the end, the killers “laughed”, Ernesto Belchior reveals to the CM [the newspaper].
Soon afterwards, the body of the victim was found in that place, with signs of violent aggression against the head and body. The Judiciary Police (PJ) were called, the body was recovered, and the witness was interviewed after 12.20, when the inspectors brought him in: ‘I saw the two men violently kicking the victim, who never got up again,’ says the Englishman, who saw everything through his binoculars, to the CM.
Two trails of blood at the scene indicate that the victim, who is presumed to be foreign, suffered a first attack and tried to escape, but ended up being killed only 20 meters farther along, supposedly through kicks.
Ernesto Belchior claims to have seen the suspects from a certain distance at the crime scene; they were in their 20s and were both of average height. ‘I saw one of them running after saying he was going to kill the victim, and then, I heard them laugh.’
The authorities were still unaware of the identity of the victim by yesterday’s afternoon. After receiving an anonymous phone call, the CM has gathered through a source in the Comando (National Republican Guard) that the GNR (National Republican Guard) of Portimão was the first to come to the scene in Alvor — and, at the scene, the military men [the GNR is a militarized police force] asked for the help of an old fisherman to learn if the victim was someone known or resident in the area. The answer was negative.
The man’s body, apparently a foreigner, was transported to the Bureau of Legal Medicine of Portimão, where it will be autopsied today, so that the causes of death are made clear.
HALF NAKED BODY WAS LYING ON ITS BACK
The body of the murdered man was half naked, the CM has gathered from a fisherman who saw the body. ‘He had only white shorts and was lying on his back, with the upper body naked and the arms covered with blood,’ João Pedro Pacheco says that he felt ‘faint’ with what he had seen that morning.
‘I was going to the river and the GNR saw me walking and asked if I could look to the body, to see if it was of someone known, and I went there. But I am convinced that he was not a son of Alvor. He was short and looked foreign, about 40 or 50 years old,’ recalls the fisherman.
Other people claimed to the CM that the victim was wearing ‘a kind of long shorts’. All of them noticed the abundance of blood on the body and the ground.
‘I SAW THEM REPEATEDLY KICKING THE VICTIM’
The slaying was witnessed by an Englishman, Edward, who lives in Alvor, and was on his boat, anchored on the river: ‘I heard much noise on the shore, around 04.00, and I grabbed my binoculars to see what was going on. I saw two men repeatedly and violently kicking the victim, who, by the moves of the aggressors, would already have been on the ground,’ he said to the CM.
The witness, who was interviewed by the PJ, said ‘I stayed for some time waiting for the beaten man to get up after the other two had left, but that did not happen.’
The Judiciary Police of Portimão proceeded yesterday morning to gather evidence near the river, having heard some witnesses.
The sidewalk close to the river of Alvor, where the crime took place, is well-lighted. The body was found lying between two benches and a lamp.
The residents in Alvor commented the murder yesterday and appeared to be very shocked.
The next report is a personal account by Afonso Henriques himself. He says, “This will not appear in the news:”
Last night I was resting at home when I heard some dogs barking. Oddly enough my mother caught my attention, because she wouldn’t leave the window, which is highly unusual. After some seconds I started to hear some altered voices although I couldn’t understand what they were saying. With the dogs barking I heard a kind of girly and childish crying/screaming and I figured it was a five-year-old girl afraid of some dogs in the café which usually closes about that time. The dogs sounded inoffensive and small, like poodles or Chihuahuas.
Then I was surprised because I clearly heard a very non-PC and rude yelling coming from a window. I realized the voice was male and came from a nearby balcony where otherwise only respectful men live who would never say this in normal circumstances in order to not offend many of the neighbors, who are Africans. I heard: “Sh***y n****rs! We only have black scum! F****ng n****rs!” which drew my attention.
I then went to the window and saw a man and a woman having an argument. It was heating up and it appeared that they had turned physical even before I noticed them. A small group of passersby gathered, powerless to assist. The group was mainly composed of women who did not know this couple and were powerless due to physical power of the man in the argument who was of average to tall height but was well built and a heavy fellow.
The man and the women having the argument were Africans from São Tomé.
Suddenly they went to an area where I could see them perfectly. They argued, and then the man screamed, “I am going to kill you!” He then arm-locked his wife, who was considerably smaller than he, and threw her to the ground. The women fell but got up screaming. The man pushed her and she fell to the ground again, falling violently on one arm. She screamed, and this time she got up and ran away from him, but he caught her quickly.
There was a group of three women visibly scared, witnessing this entire scene from a secure but close distance. People started to come to their windows to see “the show”. Nobody intervened. When I first saw them getting physical I felt like I should do something to stop them, but I rapidly and selfishly realized that it was not my business, that I’d have to dress myself and that there was a good probability that I would be attacked myself.
To tell the truth, I even rationalized that she was his wife and that if he was beating her, he should have some strong reasons although (almost) nothing justifies that kind of abuse. After all we have the saying “entre marido e mulher, ninguém mete a colher” (between husband and wife, nobody shall put his spoon). And he was punishing her but it didn’t appear that he was going to kill her. But the most compelling rationalization that made me feel “better” for not acting while seeing this horrible show was that if I were being beaten like that woman, they probably wouldn’t help me either and I didn’t know them or particularly like them.
Someone had already called the police but they wouldn’t come. The man grabbed the women and threw her once more to the ground, this time harder. The women who were watching were getting hysterical. One of the women outside started crying and hugged another woman. Some old ladies were starting to look really apprehensive and my own mother appeared, hysterically crying, holding the phone and asking me to call the police or 911. She wanted to help the other women but was afraid. She didn’t want to look at the violence but wouldn’t leave the window.
She wanted to call for help but could only look at the phone, insult the men, and ask me what the police phone number was. Even after I replied “If you want to do something, call 911,” she wasn’t capable of pressing those three numbers. She was not the only one in that state. The woman who lives right next door to this couple was crying on her balcony and became really afraid when her husband went down to defuse the situation.
At this point there was some blood in the man’s white trousers and the woman was lying on the ground. The man started to kick her violently in the kidneys and stomach. The women screamed and now some people on the windows were yelling for the man to stop and simultaneously criticizing the immigration policy.
Then that other man appeared to defuse the situation. He had no shirt and was clearly resting at home. The man was considerably shorter than the aggressor but still was the only person to go there and do something. That man was a police officer of the PSP who was off duty. He went there and said, “it is enough.” The African man went away, and went home.
Three minutes later he came back with a wooden bar, went to his wife who was still on the floor and screamed: “I’m going to finish you!!”
He did … nothing. The off duty policeman convinced him to drop the wooden bar. There was no more violence.
Ten minutes later the police came, but because the woman was so quiet some people were already commenting that she had died. The police spoke to the people at the place for an hour. They also gathered evidence. They heard the African man and his main argument was: “I’m a man! If she thinks she can play around with me… No, no, no… I show her what a man is, don’t matter where we are. I’m a man, as you can see. I do manly stuff. I don’t have to take her s**t.”
Then the ridiculous thing: some half an hour later an ambulance arrived and took the woman to the hospital. Then another one came and took the man to the hospital. The man was not detained. They went both to the hospital and returned in the same night. I don’t know exactly what happened. I just know what I saw. This morning there was still blood on the ground.
Finally, according to the respectable Lusa Agency:
Cova da Moura: A police officer injured and the aggressor detained after confrontations this late night
13th September 2009, 11:30
Lisbon, 13th September (Lusa) — An officer of the PSP (Security Public Police) suffered a light wound this late night while the Intervention Brigade was on duty in the Cova da Moura neighborhood, on Damaia, due to conflicts between rival gangs, revealed the PSP of Lisbon.
According to an official source of the PSP, the officer was wounded with a small knife, suffered only a light injury, and received treatment immediately.
The source added that the injured officer is of good health as of now.
Comment from Afonso:
Well, Cova da Moura is the biggest and wildest no-go zone in the country. It is virtually only inhabited by Africans. Really, everything happens there. And it is a great exporter of crime.
For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.