The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that Jewish women, children, and youths marched from the Jewish Ghetto neighborhood to the palace in the city's center, where the convention was held.
Roman Jews wave Israeli flags in protest. (Photo: Reuters)
The demonstrators waved Israeli flags and cried "Israel, Israel," in protest of the Iranian leader, who had announced that Israel would "vanish soon," and that the State had damaged the European Union.
"After the dictator's most recent declarations against Israel, we decided to gather here to express our feelings against Ahmadinejad's presence at the convention," the event's spokesman said.
"We want to thank the Italian government, especially Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, for not welcoming him, and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini for deciding not to meet with the Iranian ambassador," the spokesman for the Jewish community said.
He also commended the Vatican, "which decided to prevent the Iranian president from meeting the pope."
Protest slogans on Spanish Steps (Photo: AFP)
Earlier, Jewish youths handed out fliers at the Coliseum, condemning Ahmadinejad's visit with a 'prohibited' sign over his picture. The fliers said, "No entry" and "Not welcome". Members of human rights organizations also spread a black carpet over the Spanish Steps and carried signs saying, "We don't want you" and "Iran is hungry for freedom".
Italian politicians expressed outrage at Ahmadinejad's latest threats to destroy Israel, and his denial of the Holocaust. Italian Defense Minister Ignacio La Russa called Ahmadinejad's rhetoric "contrary to history and healthy logic".
Another protest, organized by the pro-Israel newspaper Il Reformista, is expected to take place during the evening in front of the municipality building. The paper called on its readers to participate in the rally for a "free Iran".
The paper's website listed 25 different human rights groups supporting the rally, and asked readers to "tell the world that Rome and Italy consider Ahmadinejad an unwelcome guest."
Nir Magal contributed to this report