World News

Portuguese police told to remove racist tattoos within 6 months

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s police force has ordered officers with tattoos bearing racist symbols or language to remove them within six months.

The ban, which coincides with increasing ethnic tensions in the country, refers to “racist, extremist or violence-promoting symbols, words or drawings”, the force said in a statement. It also covers earrings, bracelets and rings, the force said in a statement.

Police gave no estimate of how many officers might be affected, but European rights forum the Council of Europe referred in a 2018 report to numerous grave accusations of racist violence against Portuguese police, and complaints to the country’s anti-discrimination commission rose by a quarter last year.

In August, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa declared “zero tolerance” of racism as authorities launched an investigation after several people, including two Black lawmakers, were the target of e-mailed threats allegedly sent by a far-right group.

Former soccer commentator Andre Ventura won in October 2019 the far right’s first seat in parliament since Portugal’s dictatorship ended in 1974, and he is now running for President.

Reporting by Catarina Demony, editing by John Stonestreet