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Brazil sees 'Palestine Square' reopened in southern city

April 8, 2024 at 1:06 pm

Celebrations in Palestine Square on its reopening in Brazilian city São Leopoldo, in Rio Grande do Sul State [FEPAL]

Dozens of people waved Palestinian flags in Brazilian city São Leopoldo, in Rio Grande do Sul State, to celebrate the reopening of “Palestine Square” after extensive refurbishment. The square was built in the 1990s in honour of the Palestinian diaspora community which traditionally lives in the neighbourhood where the square is located.

The Mayor of São Leopoldo took the initiative to reopen the square in cooperation with the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Brazil. The city allocated a sum of money and built a walking area around it, installed a new children’s play area and concrete benches for the families, and created green spaces to beautify the area.

The reopening ceremony was attended by a representative of the Palestinian Embassy in Brazil Elayyan Aladdin; the president of the Palestinian Arab Federation of Brazil (FEPAL) Ualid Rabah; the Brazilian deputy Jussara Lanfermann; and members of the Palestinian community in Brazil. Traditional Palestinian dancers and singers entertained the audience, many of whom wore traditional Palestinian clothing.

São Leopoldo Mayor Ary Vanazzi expressed his solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“I am very happy to carry out the reopening of Palestine Square in our city,” said Vanazzi. “One of the goals of our city administration throughout the years is for everyone to feel like a Leopoldian, to feel truly a part of the city. We built a square here so that Palestinian children can play with their families while many children in Gaza are being killed by Israel. It is very important to know that this is as an expression of the solidarity of the city’s residents with the struggle of the Palestinian people. This is a more than deserved tribute for the Palestinian community in São Leopoldo that is growing day by day.”

READ: Brazil: Lula raises Palestinian flag during national celebration

Before he began his speech, FEPAL president Ualid Rabah asked for a minute of silence for the thousands Palestinian people killed by Israel in Gaza since 7 October. He highlighted the importance of the square.

“The Palestinian community in Brazil exceeds 200,000 people, which makes it one of the largest and most important Palestinian diaspora communities in the world,” said Rabah. “We are in difficult times and keeping the name of Palestine alive, even if in a simple way like this, is a noble and fundamental action.”

According to Sandro Della Mea Lima, who was responsible for the initiative, the reopening of Palestine Square was intended to boost Palestinian identity. “Here we defend democracy, diversity, a fair city for everyone,” he said. “The simple gesture of revitalising this space at this moment in time represents the difference in what we think and what we should defend. This city was formed by immigrants and different nationalities of peoples. Let us not forget this, especially in this time while we are witnessing the events on Gaza.”

Many towns and cities in Brazil have streets and squares named after Palestine. Naming them in this way is part of the ongoing process of mapping the close ties between Brazil and Palestine. For the Palestinians and their supporters in the country, such moves cement the presence of the State of Palestine, its people, culture, history and legacy in the hearts and minds of Brazilians.

As well as Palestine Square in São Leopoldo, the city´s council members have proposed different acts of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

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