After a lengthy investigation, seven people associated with the anti-Semitic website Holywar were charged in Italy this week with racial discrimination and defamation against a long list of public figures including Pope Francis.
The suspects “depicted the pontiff in photoshopped images dressed as a bearded Orthodox Jew waving the Israeli flag with a swastika at the center of the Star of David,” said the Italian news agency ANSA. Other targeted figures included Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and the actor Roberto Benigni, who won an Oscar for his film “Life Is Beautiful,” set during the Holocaust.
Based on a complaint lodged by Federico Steinhaus, a leader of the Jewish community in the northern town of Merano, prosecutors in nearby Bolzano ordered raids on the homes of the suspects, located in towns and cities all over Italy. They seized “material of interest” including computers and other IT material, letters, brochures, CDs and DVDs.