Rome Mayor Caught in Anti-Semitic Blunder

Rome mayor was forced to cancel a book presentation in City Hall following an outcry that it was to be given by a convicted neo-Nazi.

Rachel Hirshfeld,


Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno was forced to cancel a book presentation that was scheduled to take place in city hall next week following an outcry that the presentation was to be given by a convicted neo-Nazi, AFP reported.

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.

In the past, Freda has 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 suppposedly reformed neo-fascist who has struggled to shake off the suspicion that he still retains strong ties with the far-right movement, noted the AFP.

The mayor’s office issued a statement on Saturday asserting that his office had given the approval for the book presentation "without realizing the ideological nature of this publishing house, which runs contrary to the principles of the constitution."

"I immediately revoke any action and any authorization 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 the daily La Repubblica before Alemanno announced the cancellation of the presentation as 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.