ROME (AP) — The Holocaust is being remembered in solemn events around Europe today. But in Italy, former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is drawing harsh criticism after praising Benito Mussolini for having "done good" despite the Fascist dictator's anti-Jewish laws.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Holocaust remembrance ceremony in Milan, Berlusconi also defended Mussolini for allying himself with Hitler, saying he likely reasoned that it would be better to be on the winning side. Berlusconi did say the racial laws barring Jews from Italy's universities and many professions were Mussolini's "worst fault," before adding "in so many other aspects" he "did good."
More than 7,000 Jews were deported under Mussolini's regime, and nearly 6,000 of them were killed.
Berlusconi's remarks quickly provoked with outrage. One Italian politician called them "an insult to the democratic conscience of Italy." Center-left leader Rosy Bindi says: "Only Berlusconi's political cynicism, combined with the worst historic revisionism, could separate the shame of the racist laws from the Fascist dictatorship."