“If we must be honest, he built roads, bridges, buildings, he had trains come in time,” the far-right President oif the European Parliament Antonio Tajani said about Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in an interview on Wednesday. Tajani’s remarks triggered an outrage and he attacked his critics.
Shame on those who manipulate what I’ve allegedly said on fascism. I’ve always been a convinced anti-fascist, I will not allow anyone to suggest otherwise. The fascist dictatorship, racial laws and deaths it caused are the darkest page in Italian and European history.
— Antonio Tajani (@EP_President) March 13, 2019
His critics were not impressed by his rhetorics, as it was very clear what he had said.
Citing Italian media, politico writeson an interview Tajani gave to popular radio show “La Zanzara” (the Mosquito), quoting him as saying: “Mussolini? Until he declared war against the whole world following Hitler, until he promoted racial laws [against Jews], apart from the dramatic event of [Giacomo] Matteotti [an opponent killed by the regime], he did positive things to realize infrastructures in our country.”
“One must be objective,” Tajani was reported as saying. “I’m not a fascist, I have never been a fascist and I don’t share his political thought, but if we must be honest, he built roads, bridges, buildings … he reclaimed many parts of our Italy.”
The “wrong things are very serious: Matteotti, racial laws, war. These are all unacceptable things” he also said.
On Thursday, as more and more MEPs demanded his resignation, Tajani found it more courageous to apologize than to resign.
“As a convinced anti-fascist, I apologise to all those who may have been offended by what I said. My remarks were in no way intended to justify or minimise an anti-democratic and totalitarian regime,” Tajani, who is close to tycoon and former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, said in a statement in English.
“I am deeply saddened that, despite my personal and political history, some may feel that I would choose to be lenient with regards to fascism,” he added.
PS Yes, Antonio Tajani is still in office Thursday evening…