(JTA) – Jewish groups criticized a Rome judge for fining an Italian journalist who satirized a newspaper caricature of an Italian Jewish politician that many deemed anti-Semitic.
In a ruling last week, Judge Emanuela Attura indicated that she would compel journalist Peppino Caldarola to pay the court-ordered fine of more than $32,000 stemming from the case, in which Caldarola was charged with slandering extreme-leftist writer Vauro Senesi.
Senesi’s caricature of politician Fiamma Nirenstein was published in 2008 in the left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto. Calling her “Fiamma Frankenstein,” it showed Nirenstein as a monster with wild hair and hooked nose, wearing a Star of David and a fascist symbol. Nirenstein is a member of the right-wing Freedom Party.
The Anti-Defamation League was among the groups that slammed the decision.
“We are completely bewildered at this hypocritical judgment which turns the world upside down and punishes free speech while protecting anti-Semitic and bigoted speech,” Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement released Monday in Rome.
Foxman is meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and other government officials as part in a conference of international Jewish lawmakers organized by the World Jewish Congress and the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians. Nirenstein is the president of the ICJP.
A fund has been established to help Caldarola pay the fine.