Silvio Berlusconi has sparked anger by comparing his legal travails to Jewish suffering under the Nazi regime.
In an interview with Italian journalist Bruno Vespa, which was reported by the BBC, the former Italian prime minister said his children “feel like the families of Jews under Hitler’s regime”.
Mr Berlusconi was banned from office in August after he was convicted of tax fraud. He is also appealing a six-year sentence for sex with an underage prostitute and faces the loss of his parliamentary seat.
Italian Jewish leader, Riccardo Pacifici, said that the comparison “astonished” him.
Renzo Gettegna, from the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called it "offensive to the memory” of those who suffered in the Holocaust.
Nichi Vendola head of the Left, Ecology, Freedom (SEL) party tweeted: "To trivialise a terrible tragedy such as the Shoah for an everyday political polemic as Berlusconi has done is chilling."
Mr Berlusconi defended his comments saying: "My personal history, my friendship with Israel, my actions in office to help the state of Israel, don't allow for any doubt regarding my knowledge of the tragedy of the Holocaust and my respect for the Jewish people".