Hitler controversy comes days before Italy’s elections.
The far-right Fratelli d’Italia (FdI), tipped to win Italy’s general election this weekend, has suspended one of its candidates over his online praise of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, the party said on Tuesday.
Calogero Pisano has been “suspended with immediate effect” and “no longer represents the party at any level and is forbidden from using its logo,’” the FdI said in a statement.
The dismissal of Pisano – head of the FdI in Agrigento, Sicily, and a member of the national leadership – relates to Facebook posts from 2014.
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Pisano had commented under a picture of FdI leader Giorgia Meloni: “This reminds me of a great statesman from 70 years ago,” before specifying that he was referring to “a German”, not Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Upon finding himself at the centre of controversy ahead of this Sunday’s election, Pisano issued an apology for writing “deeply wrong things” in the past, claiming that he had deleted his Facebook account because he was ashamed of posts he had “published mistakenly”.
The comments, unearthed by Italian newspaper La Repubblica, have been widely condemned in Italy, including by Ruth Dureghello, head of Rome’s Jewish community.
È inaccettabile l’idea che nel prossimo Parlamento possa sedere chi inneggia a Hitler. L’ho detto in riferimento a un candidato di un altro partito e lo ripeto qui: non può esserci spazio per chi legittima l’odio. pic.twitter.com/83L7ITaUec
— Ruth Dureghello (@dureghello) September 19, 2022
“The idea that those who praise Hitler can sit in the next parliament is unacceptable” – Dureghello wrote on Twitter – “I said it in reference to a candidate from another party and I repeat it here: there can be no room for those who legitimise hatred.”
Meloni, tipped to become Italy’s first female prime minister after the general election on 25 September, has sought to distance herself from her party’s neo-fascist roots, claiming recently that fascism had been “consigned to history”.
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However she resisted calls from Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre, 91, to remove the tricolour flame from her party’s logo – perceived by many to represent the fire burning over Mussolini’s tomb – declaring her pride for the symbol and claiming it “has nothing to do with fascism”.
The FdI is leading in the latest opinion polls – on around 25 per cent – and is on track for a landslide election win as part of an alliance comprising the right-wing Lega of Matteo Salvini and the centre-right Forza Italia of Silvio Berlusconi.
Photo credit: stedalle / Shutterstock.com.