Silvio Berlusconi even divides opinions in Italy’s classrooms, as shown by a recent incident in which a teacher forced a student to remove a T-shirt bearing the tycoon’s smiling face.
The 16-year-old boy was at the Michelangelo Buonarroti school in Caserta, near Naples, or an English lesson when the teacher took one look at his pro-Berlusconi shirt and ordered him to wear it inside-out so she wouldn’t have to see the mogul’s cheesy grin.
After reportedly insulting the pupil she then rang up and reprimanded the boy’s parents. The school’s headteacher Antonia Di Pippo, has said the teacher may face disciplinary action. The parents also reported the teacher to the police, and a criminal inquiry is under way.
Il Giornale, the Berlusconi family newspaper that makes the Daily Express look like The New York Times, noted that “the T-shirts of the little saints Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, which all schools are full of, are evidently OK, while those of the evil one from Arcore [the setting of Mr Berlusconi’s bunga-bung villa] are not”.
The subject of the controversial T-shirt won’t be bothered; the incident will add to Mr Berlusconi’s reputation among his supporters of a conservative statesman beset by angry Trots.