(JTA) — Hundreds of Brazilian Jews joined a mass march for religious freedom in Rio de Janeiro.
In total, the march on Sept. 16 along Rio’s Copacabana beach drew more than 200,000 people, according to CONIB, the umbrella group representing Brazil’s Jewish communities.
The event was the 5th annual march organized by the Commission for Combating Religious Intolerance (CCIR), a Rio-based nonprofit, and it was immediately preceded by a discussion panel organized by members of the Jewish community.
The panel took place at the building of the Clube Israelita Brasileiro, a Jewish association, and was chaired by Babalao Ivanir dos Santos, a local spiritual leader of believers of Candomble, an Afro-Brazilian religion.
During the session, dos Santos “reaffirmed the importance of the commission’s work on achieving a democratic society,” CONIB reported.
In June, dos Santos spoke at a demonstration organized by the Jewish community against the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to Rio. Ahmedinejad came there to attend Rio+20, a United Nations conference on sustainable development and the environment.
“Religious hate damages the atmosphere and Ahmadinejad represents hate,” he said then.