Rome
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Jewish leaders in Italy denounced the presence of a Nazi flag draped over a coffin outside a church funeral service during which right wing extremists also gave Nazi salutes.

The incident was also condemned by Italian Catholic leaders, Reuters reported.

After a religious service had taken place inside the Catholic church, the neo-Nazis placed a swastika flag on the coffin when it was taken outside.

In a statement given to Italian media, the Catholic archdiocese of Rome said that the priests of The Church of Saint Lucy in central Rome, including one of them who presided over the funeral ceremony inside the church, were not aware of what was planned for the coffin once it was taken outside.

On Tuesday, both Jewish and Catholic leaders denounced the incident, with the archdioceses describing the Nazi flag as a “a horrendous symbol that cannot be reconciled with Christianity.”

They added that what occurred was a hateful incident of "ideological exploitation" of a religious funeral.

The incident is being investigated by the Rome police as a potential hate crime.

"It is unacceptable that a flag with a swastika can still be shown in public in this day and age, especially in a city that saw the deportation of its Jews by the Nazis and their fascist collaborators," said Rome’s Jewish community in a statement.

The incident was "even more outrageous because it took place in front of a church,” they added.

In March 2020, a similar incident happened at a funeral in Rome.