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Munich university cancels invitation to Iranians

BERLIN (JTA) — Under pressure, a Munich university canceled an invitation to representatives of Iran’s extreme Islamic sect.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany and others groups had protested plans to invite three Iranian clerics to the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, where they were to take part in a dialogue Wednesday with their counterparts at the school’s Catholic theology department. The event was to be part of an ongoing project titled "Encountering Islam."

The cancellation, announced Tuesday, was seen as a victory for critics of Germany’s relations — political, business and academic — with Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for Israel’s destruction while carrying on a vaguely defined nuclear program.

According to reports Nathan Kalmanowicz, a member of the Central Council board and vice president of the Munich Jewish community, appealed personally to the organizers of the conference — notably the Benedictus Foundation, a Catholic organization in Munich — to cancel.

Others who joined in the protest included the German branch of the International Society for Human Rights and the German branch of Christian Solidarity International.

It was the second time in recent memory that Catholic leaders in Germany have been criticized for extending a hand to Iranian officials and theologians. In October, the University of Freiburg hosted former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami at a "Dialogue between the Islamic and Western World: Chances and Obstacles."  

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