The alleged insults addressed to Senator Liliana Segre, a holocaust survivor, have animated the Italian political debate in recent weeks, especially after Italian daily la Repubblica inflated the data on the number of attacks.
According to reports in recent days from la Repubblica, more than 200 messages of racial hatred are received by the senator every day. The news caused an upheaval in the political world, which immediately expressed its bipartisan solidarity with the senator.
The president of the Senate, Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, underlined that “messages full of hatred” towards La Segre “are an insult to the history and institutions of a country that has erected its architecture on the rejection of anti-Semitism and on the repudiation of anti-Semitism”. The secretary of the Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, said he was “disgusted” and added: “I find no more suitable term to comment on the continuous insults that Senator Liliana Segre receives every day on the net.”
However, a few days after the report of the newspaper, it emerged that the number of insults are much lower. As pointed out by Nicolò Zuliani on Political Thermometer, in an analysis also taken up by Dagospia, Repubblica wrote that Segre received 200 insults a day.
However, a factual government report published two days later says something completely different: the figures refer to 2018, not to 2019. The episodes of anti-Semitism are 197 per year, not 200 a day.
Also, the alleged insults are not directed at only one person. “Public figures such as Gad Lerner, Emanuele Fiano, Sandro Parenzo, Enrico Mentana and Liliana Segre are often victims of antisemitic invectives, especially on social media.” Segre has therefore not been singled out by detractors.
As Political Thermometer pointed out, “before the article Liliana Segre did not receive 200 insults and did not need an escort, but now she has ended up in the limelight and not only does she receive such comments, but she has also become a target for all those illiterate-psychotic animals that if they hear the smell of the camera do not hesitate to do the most foul and filthy things with a stupid smile”.
The senator for life had to be given an security escort on November 7 as a result of the false report on hate comments she receives.
The carabinieri of the provincial command of Milan will therefore guarantee their presence alongside the senator for life at every public event. The protection measure from taxpayers was ordered last week by the Committee for Security and Public Order. Chaired by the prefect Renato Saccone it voted after Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese officially included a protection provision.
The decision was taken following both the escalation of offensive comments and insults that appeared recently on the social networks against Segre and the intensification of public commitments that see her as a protagonist.
Negative comments against Segre, 89, have increased exponentially with the media focusing of her appointment as chair of a new panel against “racism, discrimination, antisemitism and Web-based hate”.
The vote to set up the new parliamentary commission saw the abstentions of Italy’s rightwing and centre-right parties, leading to a media storm and the subsequent false report in la Repubblica.
President Sergio Mattarella confirmed on Friday that Segre has been given a police escort after antisemitic threats. “Solidarity, co-existence, and a sense of responsibility must combat intolerance, hatred, and opposition,” said the president.
He was speaking at the inauguration of the academic year at Rome’s Campus Biomedico University.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told an ANSA Forum on Friday that the State should apologise to Segre. He also accused the centre right parties, which had failed to back the extraordinary commission against “hate, racism and anti-semitism” proposed by Segre, of validating abuse of the 89-year-old.
“It’s a defeat for the public institutions that a person like our Life Senator, who survived a concentration camp, now finds herself a citizen in Italy in 2019 needing an escort,” Di Maio told the forum. “Words of solidarity are not enough because the truth is that we should have protected her from what is happening.
“That’s why we must invest more in education. We must apologise to her as the State. “The people who offend Liliana Segre have either misunderstood the educational message of the country or they have not had chance to study history.
“If a Life Senator presents a motion with a message of tolerance and integration and against hate and half of the assembly abstains, then we have a political problem.
“The League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia members, who would like to govern the country, validated the behaviour of those who offend that person”. Di Maio is the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), which was previously in government with Matteo Salvini’s anti-migrant Euroskeptic League party.