Italy president highlights threat of antisemitism


The new Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, received a warm welcome from the country’s Jewish community after he spoke about the 1982 terror attack outside Rome’s main synagogue in his inaugural speech last Saturday.

Mr Mattarella said: “Our country has already paid, multiple times, the price of hate and intolerance.”

Referring to the murder of Stefano Gaj Tachè, the two-year-old Jewish boy killed during the attack by five Palestinian terrorists in front of the main synagogue of Rome, he said: “He was our child, an Italian child.”

Riccardo Pacifici, president of the Jewish community of Rome, whose father was seriously injured during the attack, said: “We were not expecting it. Hearing Stefano’s name during the inaugural address as the symbol of victims of hatred and intolerance, as well as the following tactful words pronounced by the president, deeply moved us.”

According to a JPR survey, 63 per cent of Italian Jews think that antisemitism is either a problem or a big problem, and about seven in ten said they believed that it increased in the past five years. The findings are even more worrying given that the data was collected in 2012, before the attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Immediately after his appointment, Mr Mattarella visited the Memorial of the Ardeatine Caves where, in 1944, the Nazis killed 335 people, 75 of whom were Jewish. He said that “the alliance between nations and people succeeded in defeating the Nazis, racists, antisemitic and totalitarian hatred, which this site painfully symbolises.”

“Now we hope that President Mattarella will be able to amend another wound,” sais Mr Pacifici. “Little Stefano has never been included in the official list of terror victims… the bureaucratic procedure has not been completed yet. We hope that it will happen soon.”

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