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Saturday, 2 October 2010

Anti-Semitism charge mars debate in run-up to Italy confidence vote (Italy)

An ally of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi drew criticism Thursday for an apparent anti-Semitic insult he directed at dissident members of the premier's party during a parliamentary debate.

Speaking ahead of a confidence vote on a set of government proposals presented by Berlusconi, Senator Giuseppe Ciarrapico accused the dissidents and their leader, Gianfranco Fini, of being 'traitors.'
'Has Fini's grouping already ordered the kippah?' Ciarrapico asked, sarcastically referring to the traditional Jewish skullcap.

'He who has betrayed once always betrays,' Ciarrapico added.

Members of the centre-left opposition condemned the remarks.

The Democratic Party's Senate leader, Anna Finocchiaro, called on Berlusconi 'to dissociate himself in an official and clear way from the unacceptable anti-Semitic remarks made by Senator Ciarrapico in the Senate chamber.'

The Senate leader from Berlusconi's People of Freedom party, Maurizio Gasparri, described Ciarrapico's remarks as 'unpleasant.'

'Is this enough to expel him (Ciarrapico) from the PdL (People of Freedom)? Ask the party,' Gasparri was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.

Fini, a former neo-fascist who over the last two decades has shifted towards more traditional right-wing views, is accused by former comrades of selling out.

In particular, neo-fascists cite a 2003 visit by Fini to Israel during which he denounced Nazi and Fascist crimes from World War II and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

Posters subsequently appeared in Rome showing a photograph of Fini wearing the kippah at Yad Vashem and branding him a traitor.

A 2008 co-founder of the People of Freedom with Berlusconi, Fini was effectively expelled from the party in July after repeated disagreements, including over proposed legislation to limit the use of wiretapping in investigations.

However, on Wednesday, some 35 parliamentarians loyal to Fini supported the government in a lower-house Chamber of Deputies confidence vote on the same set of proposals presented by Berlusconi to the Senate on Thursday.

The confidence vote in the Senate is scheduled for later Thursday.

Monsters and Critics