Ahmadinejad nixes visit after Jewish protests

SAO PAULO, Brazil (JTA) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad canceled his visit to Latin America one day after Jewish-led protests in Brazil.

No reason was given for the cancellation, which was announced Monday by the Iranian news agency IRNA.

Thousands of Brazilians Jews and non-Jews demonstrated in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on Sunday against Ahmadinejad’s visit to their country, scheduled for Wednesday, which would be his first stop in Latin America.

In Sao Paulo, some 1,000 people including secular and Orthodox Jews, as well as Evangelical Christians, homosexuals and Gypsies, gathered in a major square to protest. In Rio, another 1,000 demonstrators walked along Ipanema beach carrying signs and shouting messages against terrorism, homophobia and racism.

Ahmadinejad had planned to visit Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador with a 110-member delegation, the largest to join him on an international mission, according to the Iranian Embassy in Brasilia. The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had declared that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would express his discontent with Ahmadinejad’s description of Israel as a "cruel and racist" entity.

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