A far-right Italian lawmaker has apologised for referring to a Holocaust survivor by the tattoo number that was forced upon her as a teenager in Auschwitz concentration camp.
Liliana Segre, who received the tattoo when she was thirteen years old, has been an outspoken supporter of COVID-19 health measures. It was on this point that Fabio Meroni, a member of the city council of Lissone who represents the far-right party Northern League, criticised her in a Facebook post, whereupon he referred to her using the number of her tattoo, stating: “All that was missing [in the vaccine debate] was…75190.”
Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination networks have become known as hotbeds of antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes.
The far-right figure was condemned for his comments by both political and religious figures alike. Lissone councilors from the center-left Partito Democratico urged Mr Meroni to apologise, stating that equating the process of vaccination with Nazim was “vulgar” and would “offend all people with historical awareness and a sense of humanity.”
Mr Meroni responded by saying that he used “that number instead of her name to avoid getting banned from Facebook.”
Walker Meghnagi, President of Milan’s Jewish community, said that it was “intolerable” for a public figure to use such “vile terms” against “those who have suffered the horror of the racial laws on their own skin.”
After receiving substantial backlash for his comments, Mr Meroni wrote that “in this climate of hatred, unfortunately, I too got involved and I tried to express my thoughts in a totally wrong way,” later adding: “I want to apologise to Senator Liliana Segre, it was not my intention in any way to offend you and if one day I will have the honor of being able to speak to you, I will personally explain my thoughts.”
The initial post has since been removed from Facebook.