A swastika flag placed on a coffin after a funeral in Italy in which far-right extremists saluted Nazis has sparked a wave of condemnations.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Rome said in a statement that the priests of the Saint Lucia parish in central Rome, including the one who led the service, had no idea what would happen outside of it. ‘church.
Images uploaded showed the coffin bearing the body of Alessia Augello, a former member of the far-right group Forza Nuova, covered by the flag.
The diocese’s statement called the flag a “horrible symbol that cannot be reconciled with Christianity” and said the episode was an offensive example of the “ideological exploitation” of a religious service.
Police said the incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime.
The Jewish community in Rome has expressed outrage that such events may still occur more than seven decades after the end of World War II and the fall of the Italian fascist dictatorship.
“It is unacceptable that a flag with a swastika can still be shown in public today, especially in a city which saw the deportation of its Jews by the Nazis and their fascist collaborators,” the statement said.
More than 1,000 Jews from the city were deported, most to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, after a raid on the capital’s Jewish quarter on October 16, 1943. Only 16 returned.
The Jewish community statement said Monday’s funeral was “even more outrageous because it took place in front of a church.”
A similar episode took place in front of another church in Rome in March of last year.