Italian premier denounces anti-semitic graffiti

Premier expresses solidarity with Italian Jews over "ignoble gesture of hate and intolerance."

swastika graffiti 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
swastika graffiti 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Italian Premier Romano Prodi on Tuesday denounced a swastika and other graffiti scrawled on walls in a Jewish neighborhood in Rome overnight, when huge crowds of soccer fans were in the streets to celebrate the nation's World Cup triumph. Some of the graffiti was painted on a wall near outdoor tables of a trattoria along the main street of the Old Ghetto, as the neighborhood is known. Prodi condemned the anti-Semitic graffiti in a letter to the president of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities. The premier expressed his government's solidarity with the Jewish community and denounced the "ignoble gesture of hate and intolerance which strikes not only you, but all the Italian people." "I reiterate with force and indignation these words: similar gestures will not be underestimated and will not be tolerated," said Prodi, who leads a new, center-left government. The neighborhood, where many in Rome's tiny Jewish community live or work, is a few minutes walk from Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman entertainment area where more than 600,000 fans held a jubilant but largely peaceful rally for the players of the national team, which won the World Cup on Sunday night. The Monday night festivities lasted into the early hours of Tuesday morning. Police were inspecting the graffiti on Tuesday. Swastikas and extremist soccer fans have occasionally mixed in Italy. Fans for one of Rome's teams, Lazio, waved swastika flags this past season at a game where rival club supporters held red Communist flags. Also expressing indignation over the graffiti was Italy's head of state, President Giorgio Napolitano. The president called for "mobilization against any resurgence of anti-Semitism and racism" in Italy, which is predominantly Catholic.