Panorama of Religious Coexistence in Brazil

Edna Vasconcelos Zilli graduated in law from Pontifícia Catholic University of Paraná. She is a specialist in environmental law and third sector law (Positivo University) and constitutional law and religious freedom (Mackenzie University). Zilli is president of ANAJURE (National Association of Evangelical Jurists), founding member of the Commission on Law and Religious Freedom of OAB/PR (Parana Order of Attorneys), and a member of the OAB/PR Commission on Third Sector Law.

 The following is a translated summary of her remarks as a panelist addressing “Religious Freedom, Coexistence, and Justice” at the First Brazilian Symposium on Freedom of Religion or Belief (2022).

Sources of Information on Religious Freedom Violations

In discussing religious coexistence in Brazil, data generated by the National Human Rights Ombudsman (Ouvidoria Nacional de Direitos Humanos) offers a starting point for understanding the bigger picture. In the last three years, for example, the agency received complaints about religious intolerance in different parts of the country. In the first half of 2020 they received 342 complaints; from the second half of 2020 to the second half of 2021, there were 823 cases; and in 2022 to date, there have been 111 occurrences. In these periods, five states produced the most complaints: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Bahia, and Rio Grande do Sul. Rankings follow the sequence listed, except for the second half of 2020 to the end of 2021, when Rio de Janeiro was in first place and the State of São Paulo was in second.


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Religious Privilege and Intolerance: Unveiling the Rainbow Nation

Lee-Shae Salma Scharnick Udemans is a senior researcher in the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice at the University of the Western Cape.

This article is adapted from the original chapter in the book, Ecumenical Encounters with Desmond Mpilo Tutu: Visions for Justice, Dignity, and PeaceThe book honors the life and work of Desmond Tutu and was published as part of his 90th birthday celebration

The rainbow nation moniker as a symbol of peaceful and inclusive religious co-existence, lovingly coined by Tutu, during a time of great socio-political upheaval and hope obscures the uneven ways that religious freedom as the constitutional commitment to promote and protect religions and religious diversity, is experienced by individuals and communities [1]. While the latest French legislation that further augments already ignominious restrictions on the hijab for Muslim women has left feminists and human rights activists reeling, this essay illustrates that in South African where religious freedom is protected constitutionally and promoted discursively, there is a record of Muslim women’s sartorial choices being surveilled and scrutinized. Through exploring the notion of religious privilege and by drawing on two examples of institutional and individual attempted unveiling, this essay highlights the limited utility of rainbowism and constitutional religious freedom at the rock face of intolerance and exclusion.


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