by Gianluca Mezzofiore
December 13, 2013
A protester holds a sign that reads
"Make room for us" during a
protest at the Turin train station
Italy's Jewish communities have hit back at the spokesman of the
Pitchfork movement, who described Italy as
being "enslaved by wealthy Jewish bankers".
The Pitchfork protestors' spokesman, Andrea Zunino, who made the
anti-Semitic comments, represents thousands of demonstrators who took to
the streets in towns and cities across Italy to voice anger at austerity
Renzo Gattegna, representing the Jewish community, said the words
"[Those words] shamelessly recall a
historical period characterized by death, violence and denial of the
most elementary rights," he told daily
Conspiracy theories regarding Jews and banking
were popular during the rise of National Socialism and the Nazis.
Earlier, Zunino had claimed:
"We want government resignation. We want
sovereignty over Italy which is now the slave of bankers, like the
Rothschild: it is odd that five or six among the world's richest people
The Pitchfork movement, which started with a
loose group of Sicilian farmers concerned about rising taxes and cuts to
agricultural state funds, has evolved into a nationwide umbrella grouping of
truckers, small businessman, the unemployed, low-paid workers, rightwing
extremists and football supporters.
Zunino cites Hungary's controversial premier Viktor Orban, whose
government has been accused of being weak in fighting rising anti-Semitism,
as his role model.
But Gattegna said the Pitchfork leader's remarks demonstrate a,
"deeper sense of discomfort" fuelled by "the
most violent and grimmest anti-Semitic stereotypes".
"Zunino not only offends the memory of millions of individuals who died
among the most brutal suffering in the name of the Nazi ideology. It
also offends the intelligence, the democratic conscience and the
maturity of that Italian population that it proposes to represent -
improperly - in the streets of the country."
Thousands of Pitchfork demonstrators, riled by
the country's struggling economy, have demanded,
Mass demonstrations threw some Italian cities
into chaos on Monday with police officers using teargas on protesters who
had been throwing rocks and bottles at the headquarters of Italy's tax
Roadblocks, demonstrations and sit-ins continued from Milan to Bari in the
Shop-owners were reportedly threatened by demonstrators to either close
their stores and join the protest, or face violence.