Rome, January 3 - The head of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), Noemi Di Segni, on Wednesday wrote to Culture Minister Dario Franceschini asking that the name of the king who signed Mussolini's racial laws in 1938, Vittorio Emanuele III, be removed from schools and public libraries across Italy. Di Segni said that, as well as countersigning the infamous laws, the king - whose body has just returned to Italy - had been "the accomplice of numerous crimes committed in Fascism's 20-year reign". The UCEI chief said "we have learned with dismay" that countless schools and libraries were still "dedicated by the Italians to the king who abandoned them to their fate", referring to Vittorio Emanuele's inglorious flight from Italy after agreeing an armistice with the Allies, without giving instructions on who soldiers and civilians should side with. These institutions include, the UCEI president said, the National Library in Naples, the third most important Italian library. UCEI will on January 18 stage a play at Rome's Parco della Musica called The Trial focusing on Vittorio Emanuele's misdeeds and shortcomings. It will be chance to reflect on "the individual and collective responsibilities for that infamy," Di Segni said. She also voiced "strong" concern over "the growing legitimization of Fascism in the media and entertainment worlds". One dismaying example, she said, was the conservative Rome newspaper Il tempo recently devoting its front page to 'Mussolini, Man of the Year'. The Savoy family last month asked on the return of the bodies of Vittorio Emanuele III and his wife that they be buried in the Pantheon, burial place of other Italian kings, but the government refused amid widespread opposition to the idea.
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