In Olhão, Marcelo spoke to young people of tolerance and apologized to the attacked Nepalese

Group of young people is suspected of aggression in Olhão, namely a Nepalese man last week

Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação

It was a «lightning visit», decided «suddenly», but Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa felt that «it had to be now». The President of the Republic was on the morning of Monday, February 6th, in Olhão, to talk to young people about citizenship and to meet with the Nepalese man who was brutally attacked in this city. To the young man, he apologized and to the students of Secondary Francisco Fernandes Lopes recalled that Portugal, as a country of emigrants, has to understand "even better" who arrives in our country. 

The citizenship class lasted almost an hour and a half and filled the school auditorium with young people.

The reason that led the President to travel to Olhão was understood by all: the recent attacks by a group of young people on a Nepalese immigrant made Marcelo want to talk to the students about what happened.

«It was an idea that came to me due to events», began by saying the Head of State.


Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação


Throughout the conversation, Marcelo kept reminding that Portugal is a «democracy», that freedom is «a great good» that also «supposes acceptance of the other» and that a democracy is «the richer the more we accept difference of others».

But the President, who also spoke about Portuguese emigration, the slums of Paris, of the difficulties that the Portuguese encountered abroad, I also wanted, above all, to listen to young people from Olhão.

And they agreed: a young woman, for example, explained that what had happened was due to the «lack of follow-up, affection and education», demanding that justice act «faster»; another young woman also took the opportunity to talk about the current situation of teachers and another about the lack of participation of young people in decisions.

Basically, what would have been a conversation about xenophobia and immigration ended up touching on many other topics, something that Marcelo welcomed.

«For them, it is evidence that this behavior is intolerable and, therefore, they did not waste much time stating the obvious», he said, in the end, to journalists.


Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação


Asked whether Portugal is becoming a xenophobic country, Marcelo, who had a small demonstration of teachers waiting for him after leaving school, rejected the idea.

«It is evident that Portuguese society, like all societies, has changed a lot and people are not used to what our history is. There were times when there were intolerances and when, for religious reasons, people were expelled", he recalled.

Marcelo made a point of remembering that «there are no Europeans pure», but also assumed that the «successive economic and social crises» ended up creating a certain «fear and a defensive reactive attitude».

"From the rejection of difference to xenophobia is a small step and we have to be aware of that small step because it means less democracy and less respect", he added.

From school, where he also did not escape the traditional selfies, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa headed to an Indian restaurant in downtown Olhão.



Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação


Waiting for him was the young Nepalese man who had been attacked, with whom, despite the language barriers, he exchanged a few words, apologizing for what had happened.

«There is nothing that justifies this type of inhuman, anti-democratic and criminal treatment that cannot be accepted as normal in Portuguese society», considered the President.

The young man already has a “taxpayer number”, which allows him to work, being available “whether for catering or for civil construction”.

“What happened to others happened to him. He came to Alentejo, for agriculture, he didn't find a job and he came here. At this time, the Chamber will deal with support for social action», added Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

The "lightning" visit would end up there, at the table of the Indian restaurant, whose owner has been helping the young Nepalese. The President had already left behind the strong idea: «It is important that society does not start to create a very unfair feeling, because there is no Portuguese family that does not have emigrants».


Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação



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