/Holocaust survivor under guard amid death threats

Holocaust survivor under guard amid death threats

Italian life senator Liliana Segre in Milan, 21 June 2019Image copyright
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Liliana Segre has reported receiving about 200 hate messages a day

An 89-year-old Holocaust survivor in Italy has been assigned police guards for protection after receiving hundreds of threats on social media.

Liliana Segre, who was sent to the notorious Auschwitz death camp at 13, has been subjected to a barrage of anti-Semitic messages in recent days.

It comes after Ms Segre, an Italian life senator, called for parliament to establish a committee to combat hate.

The motion passed despite a lack of support by Italy’s right-wing parties.

Members of the nationalist League party, led by Matteo Salvini, the centre-right Forza Italia and the far-right Brothers of Italy all abstained from the vote in Milan last week.

The motion called for the establishment of an extraordinary commission in Italy to combat all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, incitement to hatred and violence on ethnic and religious grounds.

Ms Segre said after the vote that the abstentions made her feel “like a Martian in the Senate”.

I appealed to the conscience of everyone and thought that a commission against hatred as a principle would be accepted by all,” she said at the time, Italy’s La Repubblica reported (in Italian).

Since then, she has reported receiving as many as 200 hate messages a day.

Some of the threats have been so serious that the prefect of Milan, Renato Saccone, held at a meeting on Wednesday with the committee for security and public order, where it was agreed that Ms Segre needed police protection.

The measures that were approved include Ms Segre being accompanied in public by two paramilitary carabinieri officers.

Meanwhile, the Milan public prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation into the hate messages targeting the senator and had requested the assistance of Italy’s anti-terror police.

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Ms Segre was born in Milan in 1930. She fled Nazi persecution in Italy with her father in December 1943.

After failing to secure refuge in Switzerland, the pair were sent by train to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland the following month, where her father and grandparents were killed.

Along with other Jewish prisoners transferred from Auschwitz in January 1945, Ms Segre was taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany.

Weeks later she was moved to another camp operated by the Nazis which was eventually liberated by the Soviet Red Army.

Ms Segre was made an Italian senator for life by President Sergio Mattarella in January 2018.

Italy has a population of about 30,000 Jews. More than 7,500 Italian Jews died during the Holocaust.

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