Rome

Napolitano calls for govt courage on Liberation Day

Grillo says WWII commemoration 'dead'

Napolitano calls for govt courage on Liberation Day

Rome, April 25 - As children sang and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano spoke of civic virtues, some Italian legislators used Liberation Day ceremonies as a platform for politics. As a children's choir sang the traditional partisans' anthem "Bella, Ciao", Napolitano urged Italians to find courage in the current economic and political turmoil roiling Italy. "We are in a time of ... crisis," he said at the national Museum of Liberation in central Rome, a former SS detention centre where prisoners were tortured and killed. Napolitano noted the memorial in Via Tasso was a powerful reminder of the value of courage and determination as exhibited during the Second World War by Rome' Resistance forces. "We have much to learn about how to address these crucial moments: with courage, firmness and sense of unity that were decisive for winning the battle of the Resistance". Ceremonies were held across the country on the national holiday established to commemorate this, the 68th year since Allied Forces liberated Italy from Nazi occupation. A postwar tradition has always seen April 25, 1945, as the moment when a divided Italy rallied behind Resistance leaders to raise the country from the ashes and recover its patriotic honour. Centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi, a three-time premier who is bidding to play a large part in a government now struggling to take shape, boycotted the Day on several occasions, claiming it was a Communist celebration. Some saw the latest event as another platform for their political messages. Beppe Grillo, leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, boycotted the event, suggesting that Italian politics have become so foul that liberty in Italy has been destroyed and the commemorative ceremony is therefore "dead". "If the partisans were to come back among us, they would be crying," Grillo wrote on his blog. Another M5S politician said the ceremonies had been twisted into a kind of "comedy" by a corrupt system, remarks deemed offensive by his opponents. The leader of Italy's biggest and most left-wing union, Susanna Camusso, said: "Saying Liberation Day is dead is the worst (possible) thing you can say...You cancel the common roots of our country".

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