Politician punched in antisemitic attack in Venice’s St Mark’s Square

Attack comes amid warnings of growing far-right threat across Europe

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 01 January 2020 21:51
Tourists walk across St Mark's Square
Tourists walk across St Mark's Square

A left-wing politician was the victim of an antisemitic attack in Venice on New Year's Eve.

Police are investigating the attack and the city's mayor Luigi Brugnaro has said that such assaults – which he described as an incident of fascism – would not be tolerated in the city.

He gave an apology to Arturo Scotto, a former politician who was punched in the face while walking through the famous St Mark's Square in the centre of Venice.

The attack comes amid growing warnings about the rise of antisemitism across Europe. In December, more than 100 Jewish graves were defaced with Nazi swastikas in an antisemitic incident in France

Racist rhetoric of all kinds is also growing across Italy. A poll in November showed that 45 per cent of Italians believed that racist attacks could be justified. Far-right political groups are also gaining in popularity across the country.

Mr Scotto was walking through the city with his wife and son on New Year's Eve when eight youths shouted "Duce! Duce!" at him.

The shouts are a reference to the Second World War leader Benito Mussolini, who enacted antisemitic laws in the 1930s.

The men also made mocking reference to the death of Anne Frank, Mr Scotto said.

When Mr Scotto asked the young men to stop the racist abuse they punched him in the face, he said in a post on Facebook. Another man who tried to help him was also attacked and left badly beaten, he said.

In the same Facebook post, he said that fascism began in the same way at the beginning of the 1920s, and urged people that they should be concerned about the rise of such groups. He also noted that the city was still working to recover from the drastic flooding that swept over St Mark's Square and other parts of Venice last month.

Mr Brugnaro said that police were looking through surveillance videos in an attempt to identify the attackers, who are said to have worn scarves to cover their faces.

Additional reporting by agencies

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