[A-List] Italy: Mussolini revival
Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Fri Jul 26 02:48:50 MDT 2002
Mayor in battle to halt revival of Mussolini
By Kate Goldberg in Predappio
The Independent, 25 July 2002
A mayor in northern Italy is struggling to stop his town from becoming a mecca for fascists from all over Europe amid signs that Italian right-wingers are rehabilitating the legacy of Benito Mussolini.
Preadappio, near Bologna, the birthplace and final resting place of il Duce has long been a place of pilgrimage for Mussolini apologists. But more than 100,000 people have visited in the past year with numbers peaking on the anniversaries of Mussolini's birth, death and rise to power.
Those who argue that il Duce has been denied the honour and respect he deserved have even set up a guard of honour at his mausoleum, complete with black capes.
Ivo Marcelli the town's left-wing mayor, is alarmed by the influx, but says that Italy's ruling right-wing coalition is turning a blind eye to the illegal glorification of Fascism.
Despite his pleas, sales of Fascist kitsch are booming, and the men in black capes still keep vigil outside Mussolini's tomb. He has lodged complaints with the police and the President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, but his protests have fallen on deaf ears. Mr Marcelli said: "Exalting a figure such as Mussolini who created wars and was responsible for oppression is intolerable."
On Predappio's main street, a souvenir shop enjoys a burgeoning trade in Mussolini paraphernalia, despite a law banning the public glorification of Fascism. In addition to il Duce flags, badges, posters and calendars, the shop also sells CDs of Fascist-era songs, and Nazi literature. A woman buying a 2003 Mussolini calendar said his only fault was that he lost the war.
Mr Marcelli said he was concerned that the trade was allowed to flourish. "The political direction the police are taking is very worrying," he said.
Part of the mayor's election platform was to provide an analysis of Italy's Fascist era and to this end he has opened the house where Mussolini was born to visitors. The aim is to explain Fascism from a historic perspective. He says: "There is currently no political support for honest debate about the Fascist period."
Italy has never prosecuted its worst war criminals. It has never experienced a sense of national guilt and soul-searching over its role in the Second World War.
And with a coalition government that includes the reformed Fascist National Alliance and anti-immigration Northern League parties, some argue that a more forgiving climate towards the extreme right has emerged.
Nationally, Mussolini's former residences are being restored and opened to the public. In Sicily local authorities are campaigning to rename a street after il Duce.
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