Outrage in Italy as Auschwitz inmate costumes worn in protest against COVID pass

Politicians and Jewish groups in Italy express outrage over a weekend protest in which campaigners opposing the country’s COVID-19 pass dressed up as World War II death camp deportees.

Activists opposed to the new pass demonstrated Saturday in Novara, a city in northwest Italy, wearing the vertically striped uniforms of those deported to the Nazi concentration camps. Some of the costumes also carried numbers, an apparent reference to the identity numbers many death camp inmates had tattooed on their skin. Demonstrators carried placards denouncing a “dictatorship” and government “blackmail.”

“These are images I would never have thought to see,” writes Noemi Di Segni, president of the Italian Union of Jewish Communities (Ucei).

They are as stupid and ignorant as they are dangerous, she writes in today’s edition of La Stampa newspaper.

Describing the protest as an “intolerable outrage,” she dismisses any attempt to characterize it as a demonstration of free speech.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza says he was “shocked by these people referring to the concentration camps.”

The mayor of Novara, Alessandro Canelli, a member of Matteo Salvini’s far-right League party, also condemns the stunt.

“To compare an ideological position on a vaccine or a health pass to the most tragic page of our history and to people who were deported, humiliated, tortured and killed is quite simply shameful,” he says. “They couldn’t have chosen a worse way to express a position on which one can be more or less in agreement.”

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