President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s welcome on the sunny Ipanema beach in Rio was less than warm from an eclectic group of Jews, human rights activists, and homosexuals, who arrived Sunday to protest the Iranian president’s attendance at a UN summit on sustainable development.
The protest was organized by a group called the Commission Against Religious Intolerance.
“We want the world to know that religious hatred harms the environment and Ahmadinejad represents hatred. Sustainable development encompasses human rights,” Ivanir dos Santos representative of the commission told the AFP.
“Citizens in Rio have good reason to be appalled by this visit. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embodies the ideology of intimidation and violence fomented by Iran’s militant Islamic Republic,” Alex Traiman, director of the award-winning documentary exposing the Iranian regime’s radical ideology, Iranium, told the Jewish Press. “For decades, Iran has expanded its influence in South America, through large oil contracts and joint terror operations. Iranians carried out mass-scale bombings in Argentina in the 90’s while Hizbullah, an Iranian terror proxy, has cells all over the continent.”
Unlike previous demonstrations organized by the commission, no Muslims took part in Sunday’s rally.
“Muslims do not take part in demonstrations against a fellow Muslim, even if they disagree with him,” commission representative dos Santos told the AFP.
Demonstrators waved placards in support of Iranian nationals, but also carried banners stating “Rio does not welcome Mahmoud Ahmadinejad” and chanted “Ahmadinejad out of Brazil” to the beat of drums.
Michel Gherman, head of the Hillel of Rio, told AFP that Ahmadinejad’s visit “is an opportunity to criticize his hateful speech denying the Holocaust as well as the persecution of homosexuals and Bahais”.
The UN summit will include discussions on eradicating poverty and protecting the environment.Malkah Fleisher