A senior Italian politician has defended a birthday cake that was made for him and decorated with Nazi and fascist symbols, saying that the country’s former dictator, Benito Mussolini, had modernised Italy and was “fine”, apart from his alliance with Germany’s Adolf Hitler and the adoption of race laws during the country’s fascist era.
“I am not resigning and I am not ashamed of the fascist symbol,” Massimo Giorgetti told the radio show La Zanzara. He said Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi’s “exultation” of Raúl Castro in Cuba was worse. Giorgetti, the vice-president of the Veneto legislature and a member of Forza Italia, the conservative party led by the former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said on his Facebook page that the cake was simply a “playful gesture by old comrades and friends at a private party”.
“If the publication of the photo has hurt the sensitivity of someone, I’m sorry and I apologise. It wasn’t my intention to do so,” he said.
The cake was decorated with two SS bolts, as they are known, which are derived from Hitler’s paramilitary Schutzstaffel (SS) and are considered neo-Nazi and white supremacist symbols. The middle of the cake showed the hallmark fascist image.
The populist Five Star Movement’s demand for Giorgetti’s immediate resignation has been rebuffed. The centrist Democratic Party called on Veneto’s governor, Luca Zaia, to dissociate himself publicly from Giorgetti and state his opposition to the use of the Nazi and fascist symbols. Zaia, a member of the rightwing Northern League, has not commented. – © Guardian News & Media 2015