In the week before the run-off vote for Rome Mayor, one of the candidates faces accusations of anti-semitism. Centre-right mayoral candidate Enrico Michetti finds himself mired in controversy.
One week before he goes head-to-head with Roberto Gualtieri (centre-left), Michetti faces accusations of anti-semitism. The run-off election to decide the future of Rome’s mayor is October 17-18.
The controversy is over an article he wrote last year, published on the website of Radio Radio where he has long been a host. The left-wing newspaper, Il Manifesto, uncovered it.
In his article from February 2020 Michetti argued the Holocaust is commemorated more than other massacres in history, such as the Foibe, because the Jews “control banks and a lobby capable of deciding the fate of the planet.”
Emanuele Fiano, an MP for Partito Democratico (PD) strongly condemned Michetti’s words. Fiano is a prominent figure in the Italian Jewish community. In a Facebook post, Fiano said Hitler and Goebbels used similar expressions. He described them as “phrases that are part of the worst heritage of anti-Semitism that bloodied Europe between the 30s and 40s of the last century, accompanying millions and millions of people to the gas chambers.”
Addressing Michetti directly he wrote: “I hope you will be ashamed of these words for the rest of your life. I have no pity for adults, cultured, who in 2020 make such a remark. I will not accept excuses. You don’t deserve excuses.”
Gualtieri supporters wade in
Carlo Calenda ran in the mayoral election. Recently he gave his backing to Gualtieri, and criticised Michetti’s remarks. “This ‘article’ by Enrico Michetti is much more serious than the usual nonsense about Rome and [his] non-existent or copied [election] programme. Repeating the clichés of anti-Semitism is not tolerable”, Calenda said on Twitter.
The president of Rome’s Jewish community, Ruth Dureghello, said: “Michetti’s words are dangerous and hide a disturbing prejudice”. Meanwhile the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) Noemi Di Segni, said: “The thought that our city institutions would be led by people whose thinking is steeped in prejudice makes one tremble.”
Michetti’s response was as follows. “The Holocaust was unique in its inhumanity against men and women who had done no wrong whatsoever, the lowest point in history. The utmost vigilance and unity is required by everyone against all forms of anti-Semitism so that what happened never happens again, not even in other guises.”
During a visit yesterday to Ponte di Ferro, Michetti said he would like to name streets after the 10 women killed there by Nazi-fascists on 7 April 1944.
The run-off between Michetti and Gualtieri takes place in Rome on 17-18 October.