- An Italian Holocaust survivor and lawmaker has been assigned a police escort because of threats from far-right extremists.
- Liliana Segre, who survived Auschwitz at age 14, received on average 200 threats a day.
- The harassment amplified in response to a proposal she presented to parliament last week calling for the establishment of an anti-hatred and anti-racism commission.
- The Milan native has devoted her life to fighting racism and speaking about her experience in the Holocaust.
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An Italian Holocaust survivor and lawmaker has been placed under police protection because she was receiving on average 200 threats a day.
According to The Guardian, Liliana Segre has been assigned a police escort because of threats, many against her life, from far-right extremists.
The harassment amplified in response to a proposal she presented to parliament last week calling for the establishment of an anti-hatred and anti-racism commission.
Segre holds the office of “senator for life,” one of a small number (currently around 2%) of lawmakers in Italy’s senate who are appointed by the Italian president rather than winning their seat in an election.
Several right-wing parties, including nationalist League party, led by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the far-right Brothers of Italy, and centre-right Forza Italia, abstained from the vote, leading the 89-year-old Auschwitz survivor to declare that she felt like “a Martian in the Senate,” according to the BBC.
Despite the abstentions, the measure was still passed by the government last week.
According to The Guardian, the abstentions also sparked a backlash from the Vatican and Rome’s Jewish community.
Paola Gargiulo, Segre’s chief of staff, told the Guardian that Segre has been receiving threats “long before she proposed a motion.”
“You get the professional haters and imbeciles, but at the same time in Italy there is a much larger number of people who are in solidarity with Segre.”
According to the BBC, Segre now travels in public with two paramilitary officers, and Milan’s public prosecutor has opened up an investigation into the hateful messages Segre received in conjunction with the country’s anti-terror police.
According to her Senate biography, Segre was born in Milan in 1930 to a Jewish family of entrepreneurs. She fled Nazi persecution in 1943 alongside her father, though both were caught and eventually sent to Auschwitz in Poland. Her father and grandparents were killed in the camp.
In 1945, the Nazi camp that Segre had been moved to was liberated by the Red Army. She returned to Milan months later at age 14, where she began to rebuild her fragmented life.
She was appointed senator for life in January 2018. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life testifying about the horrors she experienced in the Holocaust and promoting tolerance.
“As long as I have the strength, I will continue to speak [to the youth] about the madness of racism,” she once said.