Church outrage over Nazi flag at Rome far-right funeral
The diocese of Rome expressed outrage Tuesday after a Nazi flag was draped over the coffin of a neo-fascist activist during her funeral at a church in the city.
A photograph published by La Repubblica newspaper showed mourners outside the Santa Lucia church in the upmarket Prati neighbourhood surrounding the coffin covered with a red flag adorned with a swastika.
It said Monday’s funeral had been for Alessia Augello, a member of Forza Nuova.
The neo-fascist group was blamed for violent protests in central Rome last October that targeted Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office and parliament.
La Repubblica said Augello, 44, died of deep vein thrombosis.
Members of Forza Nuova gave the fascist salute during the funeral, the newspaper wrote.
The diocese of Rome confirmed the coffin had been draped in the Nazi flag, which it called a “horrendous symbol incompatible with Christianity”, adding that some of those present shouted and made gestures relating to “this extremist ideology”.
In a statement, it condemned the incident as “offensive and unacceptable”.
Parish priest Alessandro Zenobbi expressed his “deep sadness, disappointment and dismay for what happened, while distancing ourselves from every word, gesture and symbol used outside the church”.
Forza Nuova was created in 1997 in the tradition of the violent, extreme right-wing organisations active in Italy’s so-called Years of Lead in the 1970s, and grew into a national force in 2008.
The group is openly neo-fascist. Its current leader, Roberto Fiore, a 62-year-old father to 11 children, was found guilty in the 1980s of subversive crime and founding a far-right armed political movement.
La Repubblica said police had been present at the funeral and were investigating.
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