Rome mayor to rename streets that honour infamous fascists

Populist politician Virginia Raggi wants to erase street names which ‘shame our country’

Adam Forrest
Friday 16 November 2018 12:03
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Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi represents Five Star Movement
Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi represents Five Star Movement

Rome will rename a series of streets currently christened after fascists who backed antisemitic laws during the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.

Mayor Virginia Raggi has invited students in the capital to suggest alternative street names in honour of Italians who opposed fascism during the 1930s.

Prominent streets to be changed include Via Arturo Donaggio and Via Edoardo Zavattari, thoroughfares named after scientists who signed the “Race Manifesto” of 1938.

The notorious document issued by Mussolini’s government attempted to give scientific credence to racial prejudice and led to laws which stripped Italian Jews of citizenship.

Suggested replacements put forward by Rome’s students include the scientists who opposed Mussolini’s dictatorship, according to Il Globo.

The list of names includes noted physicist Mario Carrara and distinguished botanist Pierina Scaramella.

The mayor said she was excited about the prospect of naming the public landmarks after people “who had the courage to oppose fascism … they will redefine those streets”.

Ms Raggi added: “We need to recover a memory which today is becoming a little too easily forgotten. Otherwise we risk suffering tragedies once again like those of 80 years ago.”

A prominent figure in the populist Five Star Movement, Ms Raggi became mayor in 2016.

Earlier this year she described Rome as “anti-fascist” and said she hoped the capital could act as an example in erasing any street names which “represent a shame for our country".

Yet members of her own political party have been less forceful about condemning Italy’s fascist past.

Ms Raggi’s fellow Five Star Movement politicians reportedly backed a proposal to name a street in Rome after Giorgio Almirante, founder of the Italian Social Movement (MSI) – a neo-fascist party which operated from 1946 until 1995.

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Ruth Dureghello, president of Rome’s Jewish community, attended Thursday’s meeting about street renaming with the mayor and student representatives.

“The proposed names also represent positive models for young people,” Ms Dureghello said. “It is precisely this awareness of history that guards against intolerance, racism and antisemitism.”

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