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Italy election winner Meloni lauded Iran, Hezbollah in 2018

Italy election winner Meloni lauded Iran, Hezbollah as protectors of Syria Christians in 2018
2 min read
27 September, 2022
Meloni endorsed the Assad regime's narrative of itself as a protector of religious minority communities, including Christians.
Giorgia Meloni leads the post-fascist Brothers of Italy party [Stefano Guidi/Getty-archive]

Italy's likely next prime minister Giorgia Meloni in late 2018 lauded Iran and Hezbollah as protectors of Syrian Christians.

She also said the Syrian regime's other allies were protecting Christians, The Times of Israel reported, citing a YouTube video.

Meloni, who leads the post-fascist Brothers of Italy party, claimed these regime-aligned forces were the reason Christians could still display the scene of Jesus's birth, known as the nativity, according to the Israeli daily.

The Syrian regime has worked to present itself as the protector of Syria's religious minority communities, including Christians.

The narrative has benefitted President Bashar Al-Assad, a member of Syria's Alawi minority, as he brutally suppressed a popular uprising in 2011 and fought a conflict with Syrian rebels, in which Sunni Muslim extremists such as the Islamic State group became involved.

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Meloni claimed victory in Italy's general election early on Monday, saying the country had "clearly indicated" it wants a "centre-right government led by Brothers of Italy".

She has proudly mentioned her past as a member of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, or MSI, which was formed in the aftermath of the Second World War alongside remnants of Mussolini's fascist supporters.

Meloni joined the movement in 1992 as a 15-year-old.

During the campaign, Meloni was forced to respond after Italy's Democrat political party used her party's origins to paint her as a danger to democracy.

"The Italian Right has handed fascism over to history for decades now, unambiguously condemning the suppression of democracy and the ignominious anti-Jewish laws," she said in a multilingual campaign video.

Meloni, who has spoken out against what she calls "the LGBT lobby" and mass immigration, tries to play down her party's post-fascist roots and portrays it as a mainstream group like the UK's Conservatives.

She has also pledged to back Western policy on Ukraine and not take risks with Italy's fragile finances.

AP and Reuters contributed to this report.