Written by 20:21 World

Meloni Condemns Fascist Nostalgia Amid Scandal in Her Party’s Youth Wing

Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, urged leaders of her political party on Tuesday to reject antisemitism, racism and nostalgia for totalitarian regimes after an Italian news outlet caught on a hidden camera members of the youth section of her party glorifying fascism.

“I am angry and saddened by how we were represented by the behavior of some youth of our movement,” Ms. Meloni wrote in an email, seen by The New York Times, to directors of her party, Brothers of Italy.

The news report, which came out in two episodes last month, was filmed by a journalist with the Italian news outlet Fanpage.it who pretended to be an activist with National Youth, the youth arm of Brothers of Italy.

The report said the hidden camera showed members of the movement doing fascist salutes, praising the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, instructing others to spread stickers with fascist slogans and defining themselves as fascists. People identified by the report as members of the youth group were filmed while shouting, “Sieg heil,” an expression adopted by the Nazis. Other people identified as members of the youth wing were filmed as they made racist and antisemitic comments.

The report was a blow to Ms. Meloni, who, despite having roots in a party born from the wreckage of fascism, has sought to move on from that past and vowed to cast herself as a modern, pragmatic leader, saying again and again that fascism belonged to history.

But nearly two years into her term, she had to remind her party’s leadership to leave that heritage behind. It showed that the transformation was not complete, and that nostalgia for elements of Italy’s darkest past persists, at least in some parts of a party that grew from being a fringe movement to becoming Italy’s biggest governing force.

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Last modified: 3 July 2024
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