Italy No Vax politician calls Holocaust survivor Segre by her Auschwitz tattoo

Lega councillor used "same language as Nazis" says ANPI Milan.

A right-wing Italian politician, known for his No Vax views, has caused a storm of controversy after referring to Milan life senator and Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre by the number tattooed onto her arm by the Nazis in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Fabio Meroni, a Lega councillor from Lissone in the northern Lombardia region, made a post on his Facebook page saying "All that was missing [in the vaccine debate] was her...75190".

The post was removed after "horrified" Lissone councillors from the centre-left Partito Democratico called for an immediate public apology to the 91-year-old senator who was deported to Auschwitz when she was aged 13.

"The vulgar considerations of those who like councillor Fabio Meroni equate vaccinations with Nazi-fascism" - they wrote - "offend all people with historical awareness and a sense of humanity".

Meroni said initially that he did not appreciate Segre's assertion that vaccines were "the only way out of the pandemic", saying "she is not a doctor" and claiming that he used "that number instead of her name to avoid getting banned from Facebook."

However as the controversy grew Meroni later issued a public apology to Segre, saying: "In this climate of hatred, unfortunately, I too got involved and I tried to express my thoughts in a totally wrong way."

Meroni's eventual apology did little to calm the public outrage over his comments however.

Ignoble attack

The president of Milan's Jewish community, Walker Meghnagi, slammed the "ignoble attack" on Segre, saying it was "not tolerable" for a person holding public office to use such "vile" terms "for those who have suffered the horror of the racial laws on their own skin."

The harshest condemnation came from the Milan branch of ANPI, the National Association of Italian Partisans, whose president Roberto Cenati blasted Meroni's remarks as "unacceptable and shameful".

Nazi language

Meroni "used the same language with which the Nazis cancelled the personality of those who ended up in the Auschwitz extermination camp for the sole fault of being born", said Cenati.

This is far from the first attack on Segre who said recently that "silence" is the best response to No Vax protesters who compare the Holocaust to the Green Pass laws.

The wave of No Green Pass protests in Italy have seen some demonstrators wave banners with swastikas and wear yellow stars resembling those the Nazis forced Jews to wear.

Last month a group of protesters dressed up in the style of Auschwitz prisoners during a widely-condemned rally in the north Italian city of Novara.

Anti-Semitic insults

In February, after receiving her first dose of the covid vaccine, Segre encouraged her peers to get vaccinated and said "do not be afraid."

Her appeal sparked a wave of anti-Semitic insults on social media which Italy's interior minister Luciana Lamorgese denounced as a “new and unacceptable attack” marked by “a very dangerous mix of hate, violence and racism.”

Death threats

Last year the Milan-born Segre was placed under police protection after being subjected to a barrage of abuse, including death threats, after she called for a parliamentary commission to investigate and combat all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, incitement to hatred and violence on ethnic and religious grounds.

One of the few Italian Jewish children to survive deportation to a Nazi death camp, Segre was made a senator for life in 2018, an honour in tribute to her years of speaking about the horrors of the Holocaust.

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Italy No Vax politician calls Holocaust survivor Segre by her Auschwitz tattoo

20851 Lissone, Province of Monza and Brianza, Italy