Far-right parties in Italy abstained on a vote to create a parliamentary commission on antisemitism, with some claiming it was a front to censor nationalism.
The Vatican and Rome’s Jewish community denounced the move.
The commission will still be established, as it was endorsed by the ruling Five Star Movement and the centre-left Social Democrats.
Sen. Liliana Segre, a Holocaust survivor, proposed the commission after receiving a torrent of abuse online, according to Reuters — 200 negative messages daily.
“They should be pitied or treated,” the lawmaker said of the people who wrote the messages.
Segre was deported to Auschwitz in 1944, when she was 13.
Three right-wing parties abstained on the measure — the far-right League and Brothers of Italy, and the centre-right Forza Italia, headed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. A member of the Brothers of Italy said the parties abstained because the proposal cited ethnocentrism and nationalism as possible motivators of antisemitism.
“By doing that, you are outlawing Brothers of Italy,” said one of the party’s senators, Giovanbattista Fazzolari, according to Reuters. “This is not a commission on antisemitism, as they want you believe, but rather a commission aimed at political censorship.”
The president of Rome’s Jewish community, Ruth Dureghello, called the abstentions “wrong and dangerous.” The Vatican’s No. 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, also criticised the decision.
“I am worried, in the sense that on some things like fundamental values we should all be united,” he said. “There is a danger that all this gets politicised. We need to break clear of this.”