Italian Catholic and Jewish leaders condemn use of Nazi flag after religious funeral

Italian right-wing extremists put a Nazi flag on a coffin outside a church in Rome and gave Nazi salutes.

Italian right-wing extremists put a Nazi flag on a coffin outside a church in Rome on Monday, January 10, and gave Nazi salutes after the religious funeral of Alessia Augello, a former member of the militant ultra-right-wing extremist group Forza Nuova. The neo-fascist party was created in 1997, and its manifesto includes banning abortion, halting immigration, and repealing laws punishing incitement to hatred.

Both Italian Catholic and Jewish leaders strongly condemned the incident, calling it an outrageous episode. According to the statement of Rome’s Catholic archdiocese, the priests at the St. Lucy parish, including the priest who presided at the funeral rite, had no idea about the mourners’ plan to use the Nazi flag outside the church. He called the flag „a horrendous symbol that cannot be reconciled with Christianity”, saying in his statement that the episode was an offensive example of „ideological exploitation” of a religious service.

Rome’s Jewish community voiced their outrage, that such incident can still happen more than seven decades after the Second World War, during which more than a thousand Jews were deported from Rome. „It is unacceptable that a flag with a swastika can still be shown in public in this day and age, especially in a city that saw the deportation of its Jews by the Nazis and their fascist collaborators,” the statement of the Jewish community said, adding that the funeral incident was ‘even more outrageous because it took place in front of a church.’

The police are investigating whether the incident is a possible hate crime.


Photo credit: Open Via AP