Brazilian Jewish Leaders and rights activists Protest Ahmadinejad’s Visit for Rio+20

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Hundreds of Jews, gays and rights activists jointly marched along Rio’s famed Ipanema beach Sunday to protest Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s attendance at the UN summit on sustainable development.

“We want the world to know that religious hatred harms the environment and Ahmadinejad represents hatred. Sustainable development encompasses human rights,” said Ivanir dos Santos, of the commission against religious intolerance.


Unlike previous demonstrations organized by the commission, which groups tens of thousands of people of all faiths, Muslims did not join Sunday’s rally.

“Muslims do not take part in demonstrations against a fellow Muslim, even if they disagree with him,” dos Santos said.

The marchers carried banners proclaiming in English “Rio does not welcome Mahmoud Ahmadinejad” and “Iranians we love you”.

With exuberant drumming by the cultural group Afro Reggae, they chanted “Ahmadinejad out of Brazil” as they paraded along Ipanema beach.

“The Iranian president’s visit is an opportunity to criticize his hateful speech denying the Holocaust as well as the persecution of homosexuals and Bahais,” said Michel Gherman, head of the Hillel Jewish human rights movement.

Also present were Claudio Nascimento et Joao Silva, the first gay couple recognized by Rio authorities, who said they had to show up “because today in Iran, homosexuals are jailed and sentenced to death.”

The O Globo daily, meanwhile, reported Sunday that Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes canceled the inauguration of a replica of the famed Persepolis columns offered by Iran, citing “delays in the works.”

The event had been scheduled for Thursday in the presence of the Iranian leader.

World leaders are to debate prospects for a greener world committed to poverty eradication and environmental protection at the UN Rio+20 summit, which runs from Wednesday to Friday.

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