RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Thousands of Brazilian Jews rallied to protest next month’s scheduled visit to their country by Iran’s president and to remember the Holocaust.
Some 2,500 people participated Sunday in the ninth annual Regional March of the Living in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and home to half of the country’s 120,000-member Jewish community.
Dressed in white, demonstrators took a silent walk through the streets and held a ceremony to honor the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. Several Jewish and non-Jewish officials attended, including Sao Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab.
"Besides honoring the memory of those who died in the Holocaust, this event aims at speaking out against the visit of the Iranian president," said Claudio Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation. "With the presence of [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, the United Nations became a stage for second-class citizens who preach hatred and intolerance."
Ahmadinejad, speaking last week at the U.N.-sponsored Durban Review Conference in Geneva, called Israel "a racist government."