(JTA) – Italy’s Jews expressed solidarity with victims of recent racist attacks in Italy and pledged to fight against a new outbreak of racist violence.
On Tuesday, a racist gun rampage in Florence left two Senegalese street vendors dead and two others wounded. The attacker, a known right-wing extremist, opened fire in two locations in the heart of the city, including the famous San Lorenzo market. He then committed suicide.
The Florence attack came just three days after a mob in a suburb of Turin torched a Roma (Gypsy) camp following a claim by a 16-year-old girl that she had been raped by two Roma men. The girl later admitted that she had made up the story.
“The news in Italy in recent days marks the return of hate, prejudice and xenophobia in our cities,” Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said in a statement.
The gravity cannot be underestimated, Gattegna said.
“The response to these attacks must be constant vigilance and a merciless fight against whoever foments hatred," he said. "The Italian Jews will certainly do their part.”
In a statement, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called the attacks “barbarous” and condemned all forms of "racist violence and xenophobia."
On Wednesday, police in Rome arrested five neo-fascists on charges of plotting violence against the city’s Jewish community. Police said 11 others were under investigation.
The charges include criminal association to spread racial hatred, incitement to violence, and discrimination for racial, ethnic and religious reasons.