Antisemitic comments by a leader of a major new protest movement in Italy have sparked a mixture of outrage and resignation, and have been condemned by the prime minister.
In an interview published in national daily La Repubblica last week, Andrea Zunino, one of the spokespeople of the Forconi [“Pitchforks”], said: “We want the government to resign. We want the sovereignty of Italy back. Today Italy is a slave to bankers like the Rothschilds: it is curious that five or six of the world richest people are Jews.”
When the interviewer asked him if he realised that Nazism started with the very same assumptions, he added: “I do not have any evidence. But I think that Hitler, who was probably mad, was antisemitic as a revenge for the U-turn by his initial American financial sponsors.”
Zunino’s remarks prompted widespread indignation and outrage. Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called them “delusions powered by the most violent and sinister antisemitic stereotype”, offending “not only the memory of millions who died in the name of Nazi ideology, but also the democratic values of the Italian people”.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta condemned the remarks.
Jewish-Italian MP Emanuele Fiano said: “I knew it would end up like this”, adding that he intended to report Zunino to the police under the Mancino Law, which covers racial incitement.
The Forconi movement has brought together truck drivers, farmers and students fed up with austerity and unemployment. Its protests, which have taken place across Italy in recent weeks, have often turned violent.
Among the protesters are many far-right activists, including the vice-president of the far-right movement CasaPound Simone Di Stefano, who was arrested on December 14.