20 Jewish shops in Rome vandalized, defaced with swastikas

Jewish shops across Rome were vandalized and defaced with swastikas in an apparent neo-fascist attack linked to fighting in the Middle East, officials said Wednesday.

Owners of about 20 shops in the center and outskirts of the Italian capital reached their workplace Tuesday morning to find door locks filled with glue, shutters nailed closed and swastikas defacing nearby walls, said Riccardo Pacifici, a spokesman for Rome’s Jewish Community.

Although not all the shops targeted were owned by Jews, the raid was apparently conducted in reaction to hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas, Pacifici said.

Flyers signed by a group calling itself Armed Revolutionary Fascists were left at the shops denouncing “the Zionist economy” and including pro-Hezbollah slogans, Pacifici said.

“There are still anti-Semites in Italy,” Pacifici said. He told The Associated Press that Italian Jewish organizations have been flooded with dozens of e-mails blaming Jews for violence in the Middle East.

Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni condemned the vandalism.

“Rome and Romans are against any form of anti-Semitism,” Veltroni, was quoted as saying by the Corriere della Sera daily. “I hope that the authors of these actions will soon answer for them in court.”

Police officials declined to comment on the investigation.

Last month, swastikas were spray-painted on walls in the Old Ghetto – Rome’s ancient Jewish neighborhood – while hundreds of thousands of soccer fans gathered in the nearby Circus Maximus to celebrate Italy’s victory in the World Cup.

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