RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — President Jair Bolsonaro has waded into a swirling controversy over Nazism unleashed by a popular podcast in Brazil, saying it should be repudiated along with every other totalitarian ideology, including Communism.
The far-right leader’s comments came after star talk show host Bruno “Monark” Aiub said Monday during his YouTube podcast that Brazil “should have a Nazi party recognized by law.”
Aiub’s remarks led prosecutors to open a hate speech investigation against him, and ignited a firestorm in Brazil, which is deeply divided heading into elections in October in which Bolsonaro is expected to face leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
With his hardline base facing scrutiny, Bolsonaro — himself no stranger to criticism for his past statements on Nazism — took to Twitter to stake out his stance, without directly mentioning Aiub or his remarks.
“Nazi ideology should be unconditionally and permanently repudiated, without exception, like EVERY totalitarian ideology that places fundamental freedoms such as the rights to life and liberty at risk,” the president wrote.
“Our wish is for other organizations that promote ideologies that preach anti-Semitism, the division of people by race or class, and that also decimated millions of innocents around the world, such as Communism, to be included and combatted by our laws, as well,” he added.
“This needs to be a moment for reflection and maturity with regards to the kind of environment we want to create for Brazil. Let us all show better judgment and more responsibility.”
Aiub, who faces up to five years in prison if convicted of defending Nazism, said during an interview with lawmakers that all ideologies should have a space in Brazil.
“The radical left has much more space than the radical right,” he said, calling for the creation of a Brazilian Nazi party.
“If someone wants to be anti-Jewish, I think they have the right to be.”
He later apologized, saying he was “totally drunk” when he recorded the podcast.
Bolsonaro has himself caused controversy with his comments on Nazism in the past.
In 2019, he said during a visit to Israel that Nazis were “leftists” because of the word “socialist” in their official name, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.