Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted a quote by Ezra Pound, a controversial antisemitic American poet and fascist sympathiser.
“If a man is not willing to take some risk for his own ideas, either his ideas are worthless or he is worthless,” Salvini posted on Twitter, above a picture of orchids.
An admirer of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, the American poet broadcast a series of radio commentaries criticizing the United States and Jews during World War II and was arrested by U.S. authorities at the end of the war on charges of treason. Italy’s most prominent neo-fascist group — Casa Pound — takes its name from the poet.
Salvini’s tweet is a “way to send ambiguous messages to neo-fascist voters” without sullying his “image of a government leader with too clear a statement linking himself to fascist culture,” said Italian MEP Brando Benifei from the center-left Democratic Party, calling the far-right leader a “coward.”
It’s not the first time Salvini has quoted controversial historical figures. In July, the deputy prime minister came under fire for referencing a famous quote by late fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Responding to criticism that he is fomenting xenophobia and racism with his anti-immigrant rhetoric, Salvini tweeted, “So many enemies, so much honour,” on the anniversary of Mussolini’s birth.