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Disputed colonial statue splattered in Lisbon

The statue of a 17th century Portuguese priest who converted Amerindians in Brazil was splattered with red paint, the Lisbon mayor’s office said Friday, as vandals target European colonial symbols.

Missionary Antonio Vieira is depicted with three children in the former Portuguese colony, in a statue marked by controversy when it was inaugurated in 2017.

Vieira, considered a major Portuguese author of his time, is credited with defending indigenous people in Brazil but criticized for failing to condemn African slavery.

In addition to throwing paint on the statue, someone wrote “Decolonise!” on its base, city officials said.

The statue, which stands in front of the Sao Roque church near Lisbon’s Bairro Alto neighbourhood, was quickly cleaned up and police are trying to determine who was responsible for the action.

It mirrors similar attacks on colonial symbols in Britain, Belgium and the United States that have occured following the death of George Floyd, 46, an African American asphyxiated by a white police officer in Minneapolis.