Rome's Jewish community to snub ceremony which takes place weeks before mayoral elections.
Rome mayor Virginia Raggi announced that the foundation stone of the Museo della Shoah, a museum to commemorate Italy’s Jewish victims of the Holocaust, will be laid next week.
Raggi's unexpected announcement, just weeks before mayoral elections in which she is seeking a second mandate, has been met by scepticism from the city's Jewish community which says it will not participate in the event.
In a Facebook post Raggi said she would like the development of the long-stalled project to be kept out of the "mud-slinging" of the election campaign, stating: "Memory is an important thing. It requires respect."
However senior representatives of Rome's Jewish community told Italian news agency ANSA: "The concurrence with the electoral campaign makes a ceremony inappropriate for a project that should have been inaugurated years ago", reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.
The mayor's announcement, less than a month before the end of her five-year term in office, comes after many years of delays and false starts for the city-funded museum which was first presented in 2005 by former mayor Walter Veltroni.
The museum is set to be built on a site purchased by the city 17 years ago in the grounds of Villa Torlonia, the neoclassical former residence of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and his family from 1925 to 1943.
Designed by Italian architects Luca Zevi and Giorgio Tamburini, the cuboid-shaped museum is to have high black walls bearing the names of Italian Jews deported to Nazi concentration camps during world war two.
The museum's permanent exhibit is reportedly to include a large plaster reproduction of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, while there will also be an archive, library, conference hall and facilities for research and education.