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Mattarella defends journalist targetted by anti-Israel protesters

Mattarella defends journalist targetted by anti-Israel protesters

Intolerance should be banned from higher education - president

ROME, 15 March 2024, 19:00

ANSA English Desk



President Sergio Mattarella on Friday rushed to the defence of La Repubblica Editor-in-chief Maurizio Molinari after students protesting against Italian universities having relations with Israel stopped him from taking part in a debate at Naples's Federico II University.
    Molinari, who is Jewish, has been accused by some of being too sympathetic with Israel after it waged war on Hamas following the October 7 massacres.
    The students involved held up a banner that read "Zionists out of universities".
    Mattarella's office said Friday that the head of State had phoned Molinari to expressed his solidarity.
    The statement said Mattarella stated that "what must be banned from universities is intolerance.
    "Those who claim the right to impose their ideas by preventing people who think differently from expressing theirs are incompatible with higher education," he said.
    Italy's Jewish community also voiced solidarity with Molinari.
    "It is inconceivable and unacceptable that the Federico II University of Naples was forced to cancel a conference due to the intimidation and violence of a group of troublemakers against the speaker, La Repubblica Editor Maurizio Molinari, just because he is Jewish," said a joint statement by the President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Noemi Di Segni, the President of the Jewish Community of Rome, Victor Fadlun, and the President of the Jewish Community of Milan, Walker Meghnagi.
    "Just because he is still trying to act responsibly as a journalist. Universities are, or should be, a place of tolerance, inclusion, freedom of thought, respect for the person.
    "These episodes only strengthen our sense of community.
    "If anti-Semitism prevails, it is a defeat for everyone".
    Higher Education and Research Minister Anna Maria Bernini sent a message to Molinari expressing her dismay at what had happened and asked the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) to hold an extraordinary meeting on the "intolerance emergency", sources said.
    Molinari wrote about the incident on the newspaper's website, saying "the best response to every form of intolerance is respect for your neighbour".
    He said he had offered to meet the protesters and listen to their views on the war in the Middle East but was knocked back.
    "I remain open to dialogue with them on any issue," he said.


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