News24

Rome mayor caught in neo-Nazi blunder

2012-04-28 19:46

Rome - Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno on Saturday was forced to cancel a book presentation in city hall next week following an outcry after it emerged that it was to be given by a convicted neo-Nazi militant.

Franco Freda, who served time in prison for subversive attacks in the 1960s and 1970s, had been scheduled to present a book by a publishing house he owns on 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche - a far-right icon.

Freda has also published works by Holocaust deniers and an Italian edition of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf - which is banned in several countries.

Alemanno is himself a reformed neo-fascist who has struggled to shake off the suspicion that he still retains strong ties with the far-right movement.

In a statement on Saturday he said his office had given the go-ahead for the book presentation "without realising the ideological nature of this publishing house, which runs contrary to the principles of the constitution".

"I immediately revoke any action and any authorisation granted," he said.

Alemanno is a former member of the fascist Italian Social Movement and was elected in 2008 after joining Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party.

Former centre-left mayor Walter Veltroni was quoted by La Repubblica daily before Alemanno announced the cancellation, saying that he was "shocked" that Rome city hall's culture department would host someone like Freda.

"This is a gesture that is mistaken and offensive for the city," he said.