ROME, Italy — Politicians and Jewish groups in Italy expressed outrage Monday over a weekend protest in which campaigners opposing the country’s Covid pass dressed up as World War 2 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,” wrote Noemi Di Segni, president of the Italian Union of Jewish Communities (Ucei).
They were as stupid and ignorant as they were dangerous, she wrote in Monday’s edition of La Stampa newspaper.
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Describing the protest as an “intolerable outrage,” she dismissed any attempt to characterize it as a demonstration of free speech.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said 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 condemned 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 said.
“They couldn’t have chosen a worse way to express a position on which one can be more or less in agreement,” he added.
Saturday’s demonstration was just the latest in a series of protests against the latest version of the health pass introduced in Italy last month.
The so-called green pass is available to anyone who has been vaccinated, has recently recovered from Covid-19 or has recently obtained a negative test.
Its opponents have denounced it as an attack on individual liberty, especially since October 15, when the government made it a requirement for access to the workplace.
Italy was the first country in Europe to feel the full force of the Covid-19 pandemic when it arrived in February 2019.
To date, more than 130,000 people have died of the virus there, but nearly 83 percent of people over 12 have now been vaccinated.