ROME (JTA) – An Italian far-right activist sparked outrage by wearing a T-shirt with a cartoonlike logo reading “Auschwitzland” at a rally in fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s home town.
Selene Ticchi wore the T-shirt to a rally Sunday in the northeast town of Predappio. Media described her as an activist with the neo-fascist Forza Nuova movement and an organizer of the rally. Mussolini was born in Predappio and is buried there, and his tomb is a pilgrimage site for right-wing supporters.
The rally is an annual event marking the anniversary of the “March on Rome,” an organized mass demonstration that led to Mussolini and his National Fascist Party taking power in October 1922.
Photos of Ticchi wearing the T-shirt went viral, triggering online protest in a country where “apology for fascism” is banned.
Senator Francesco Laforgia of the leftist Free and Equal movement raised the issue in Parliament with a formal query to Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, whose far-right League Party forms Italy’s government in coalition with the populist Five Star Movement. “The apology of fascism […] in the Italian legal system, is a crime,” LaForgia said. “I ask the minister if he intends to apply this law, if he shares the comparison of an extermination camp with a playground and what measures he intends to promote in order to avoid the recurrence of such episodes.”
Ticchi herself joked about her fashion choice, saying in a video interview, “it’s black humor.”
News reports said about 2,000 people marched through Predappio in the rally. As in previous years, many gave the fascist salute and wore fascist-style black shirts and hats. They chanted slogans such as “Duce, Duce” (“leader” – Mussolini’s title) or wore black t-shirts with slogans such as “Honor to the Duce.”