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Colosseum Lights Turned Off In Anti-Semitism Protest

posted 28 Jan 2013, 06:09 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 28 Jan 2013, 06:11 ]

The lights at one of Rome's most famous landmarks are turned off to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day and to protest against the Hungarian Jobbik party's "anti-Semitic acts and statements"

 ROMEITALY (JANUARY 27, 2013) (REUTERS) - Darkness fell on Rome's ancient Colosseum on Sunday (January 27) evening as Jewish groups in the Italian capital marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The lights illuminating one of Rome's most famous landmarks were also turned off to protest against Hungary's right-wing party Jobbik.

The protest, organised by Rome Mayor's Office and the capital's Jewish community, was held to draw attention to the "anti-Semitic acts and statements" of the radical nationalist Jobbik party, participants said.

"This initiative tonight is to show our solidarity, to demonstrate that after years and years, decades and decades we have never forgotten," said Rome resident Naqui Ali standing next to the Colosseum.

In a statement ahead of the event, Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said anti-Semitism was spreading "in a disturbing manner in Hungary, prompted by the extreme right-wing Jobbik Party".

The symbolic gesture of turning off the lights of the Colosseum was carried out to condemn the "xenophobic actions and ideologies, not only by the Hungarian extreme right but in all of Europe", Alemanno said in the statement.

" We are here to denounce a phenomenon such as that in Hungary which we need to be vigilant about. We need to be stern and and especially stern with all these xenophobic parties and racists who have the same ideology as Jobbik," said Rome's Jewish Community President Riccardo Pacifici.

"The danger exists if you look at Greece and the Golden Dawn, Le Pen in France and other xenophobic parties and it also exists in our house. Even in Italy we have this phenomenon, certainly with different percentages, but still dangerous. We need to stop them before it is too late" Pacifici said.

Also attending the protest was Hungary's Ambassador to Italy, Janos Balla.

"It is necessary to act and condemn all of these dangerous acts" Balla said.

It is not the first time the lights of the venue, which has a brutal history of its own, have been used to advocate change.

A campaign in 2000 seeking a ban on capital punishment saw special lights at the Colosseum being switched on every time a death sentence was being commuted or a country abolished its death penalty.

Several Roman institutions, landmarks and museums are marking Holocaust Remembrance Day with special commemorative exhibitions and displays.