Italy′s parliament marks 80 years since racial laws targeted Jews | News | DW | 23.01.2018
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Mussolini era remembered

Italy's parliament marks 80 years since racial laws targeted Jews

In 1938, Italy's parliament approved racial laws allowing authorities to systematically discriminate against Jews under Benito Mussolini. Marking the anniversary, parliamentarians drew parallels with present-day Italy.

The Italian parliament on Tuesday held a session recalling the 80th anniversary of the 1938 racial laws it approved under the rule of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

During the special ceremony organized with the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, the speaker (or president) of the lower house of parliament, Laura Boldrini, decried the laws as a "great disgrace" in the country's history. Her comments were reported by Italian news agency ANSA.

Read more: German-speaking Italy and the legacy of fascism

The 1938 racial laws allowed Italy's fascist authorities to deprive Jews of fundamental rights, including expelling them from public life by stripping them of their jobs or expelling them from schools.

The laws were later expanded to ban marriage between Jews and non-Jews, and strip them of citizenship if they had arrived in Italy after 1919.

During World War II, Italian and German soldiers deported Jews and other prisoners of war from occupied area, including Yugoslovia

During World War II, Italian and German soldiers deported Jews and other prisoners of war from occupied area, including Yugoslovia

Growing fascism

Boldrini warned that Italy and much of Europe was witnessing a resurgence of fascism and Nazism, adding that more needed to be done to prevent radicalization.

The parliamentary speaker said that social media had played a key role in propagating fascist ideologies, warning that pages hosting such content "are continually increasing."

Read more: Italy's far-right on the rise

Boldrini added that she had written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg "to stress that this is not … compatible with a democracy."

"Fascism is proliferating among young people, it should not be underestimated," said Boldrini.

Forza Nuova, a neo-fascist party, has rallied in major cities, including Milan. This photo, from April 2014, shows a large number of supporters carrying out a Hitler salute with their outstretched right arms.

Forza Nuova, a neo-fascist party, has staged ralies in major cities in recent years, including Milan

Far-right parties gaining support

Last September, Italy's parliament backed legislation aimed at outlawing the spread of fascist propaganda. The law was set to ban the stiff-armed Roman salute and the distribution of fascist or Nazi symbols on the internet, punishable by prison sentenced of up to three years.

Over the past four years, Italy has witnessed a resurgence of far-right activity, including growing support for the neo-fascist party Forza Nuova, in tandem with a wave of migration reaching Italian shores from North Africa.

Read more: Italian politics in search of the father figure

Most notably, far-right Northern League (Lega Nord) party gubernatorial candidate Attilio Fontana last week invoked what he called Italy's "white race" in comments on migration.

"We have to decide if our ethnicity, if our white race, if our society continues to exist or if our society will be wiped out," said Attilio Fontana, who is running as the Northern League's candidate for the Lombardy region.

Fascist dictator Mussolini led Italy into World War II as an ally of Nazi Germany in 1940. He was later deposed during the allied invasion of Italy in 1943 and executed in 1945.

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