The Patriarch of Venice has condemned an anti-Semitic, Mussolini-inspired attack on a left-wing politician in the Italian city’s emblematic St. Mark’s Square.

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“For the Venetian Church, this unfortunate incident has caused a deep sadness and a real anger over the physical, verbal and ideological violence that was shown”, Patriarch Francesco Moraglia said in a statement January 2.

Moraglia was referring to the attack on Arturo Scotto, a former politician who was punched in the face New Year’s Eve in another show of the far-right politics and anti-Semitism currently sweeping over Europe.

Scotto was walking the streets of Venice with his wife and son on the evening of December 31 when eight youths shouted “Duce! Duce!” at him, in a reference to former Italian anti-Semitic dictator Benito Mussolini.

When Scotto told the youths to stop the anti-Jewish hate – which also included derogatory phrases about Anne Frank – the young men repeatedly attacked the politician and also badly beat another man who came to Scotto’s aid.

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Patriarch Moraglia denounced that the assault of Scotto was “an episode that offends the entire community, goes against the respect and dignity of people, undermines peaceful coexistence at the root and therefore must be strongly condemned and in no way minimised”.

The prelate said it was especially concerning that the politician’s attackers were youths: a fact, he said, that “dramatically highlights the seriousness of the cultural and educational issue [around anti-Semitisim], especially, but not only, in the new generations”.

Why it matters

Rejecting and strongly condemning “all forms of violence, intolerance and anti-Semitism”, Moraglia expressed his solidarity with victims of anti-Semitic violence and renewed his closeness to the Jewish community, which the prelate recalled “is a living, significant and important reality of our city”.

The Patriarch reaffirmed his conviction that “Venice has always been and wants to continue to be a city of peace and freedom, welcoming to all, a lover of justice and the common good and therefore – for its nature and history – impervious and contrary to every type of violence, old and new”.

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