Friday, January 21, 2022

Coffin of a neo-Nazi extremist covered with swastika while mourners give Hitler salute

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The Catholic Archdiocese of Rome said the priests of the parish of St. Lucia in a central Rome neighborhood, including the one who presided over the funeral rite, had no idea what was going to happen

Italian Catholic and Jewish leaders condemned right-wing extremists for placing a flag with a swastika on a coffin outside a church after a religious funeral, at which some attendees even showed Nazi greetings.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Rome said in a statement today that priests of the parish of St. Lucia in a central Rome neighborhood, including the one who presided over the funeral rite, had no idea what was going to happen outside of church on Monday.

Pictures from the crime scene showed the coffin with the body of Alessia Augello, a former member of the right-wing extremist group Forza Nuova, covered by the flag.

The diocese called the flag “a terrible symbol incompatible with Christianity” and said the episode was an offensive example of the “ideological exploitation” of a worship service.

Police said they are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Rome’s Jewish community expressed outrage that such events could happen more than seven decades after the end of World War II and the fall of Italy’s fascist dictatorship.

“It is unacceptable that a flag with a swastika can still be displayed in public today, especially in a city where its Jews were deported by the Nazis and their fascist collaborators,” the statement said.

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After a raid in Rome’s Jewish quarter on October 16, 1943, more than 1,000 Jews from the capital were deported, most of them to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Only 16 returned.

The Jewish community’s statement on Tuesday said the funeral incident was “even more outrageous because it took place in front of a church.”

A similar incident occurred outside another church in Rome last March.

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