Book-toting Brazilians make a point at the polls

A supporter of Brazil's new president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, celebrates in front of Bolsonaro's condominium at the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Oct 29, 2018.
A supporter of Brazil's new president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, celebrates in front of Bolsonaro's condominium at the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Oct 29, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS
Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, far-right presidential candidate, celebrate at a plaza in Santos, Brazil, on Oct 28, 2018.
Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, far-right presidential candidate, celebrate at a plaza in Santos, Brazil, on Oct 28, 2018.ST PHOTO: JOAN CHEW

RIO DE JANEIRO • Brazilians opposed to far-right presidential front runner Jair Bolsonaro started a Twitter trend by casting their ballots with books in hand - a jibe at Bolsonaro backers who posted selfies of themselves voting with firearms.

Pointedly picking their titles - including 1984, How Democracies Die and How To Talk To A Fascist - opponents of the former army captain turned the hashtags #LivroSim and #ArmaNao (BooksYes, GunsNo) into trending topics on social media as Brazil voted on Sunday in a divisive run-off election.

It was a tongue-in-cheek reply to Mr Bolsonaro's supporters who posted images of themselves voting with their guns during the first-round election on Oct 7.

"I took this book with me to vote. What about you?" Ms Eliane Brum wrote on Facebook, posting a picture of herself with Portuguese writer Valter Hugo's book Dehumanisation.

"I brought two," another voter tweeted, posting pictures of The Importance Of The Act Of Reading by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, and a book by Portuguese Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago.

The idea was a nod to the leftist candidate facing Mr Bolsonaro, Mr Fernando Haddad, an academic with degrees in law, economics and philosophy who was education minister under former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

It was also a subtle protest against the at times violent rhetoric used by Mr Bolsonaro, who has vowed to "cleanse" Brazil of leftist "reds", and once said a female lawmaker he opposed was "not worth raping".

That lawmaker - Ms Maria do Rosario, of Mr Haddad's Workers' Party - posted a selfie of herself voting with a book titled Brazil: Never Again, a treatise on the brutal military dictatorship (1964-1985).

Mr Bolsonaro is an unabashed admirer of the military regime.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2018, with the headline 'Book-toting Brazilians make a point at the polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe