Italy: government censorship?

In Italy, an appearance by author Antonio Scurati on the public broadcaster RAI has been cancelled at short notice. Scurati was due to read a text on the anniversary of Italy's liberation from fascism on 25 April in which he accuses Giorgia Meloni of failing to distance herself from her "post-fascist past". Commentators see the incident as symptomatic of deeper problems.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

A European wound

La Repubblica's editor-in-chief of, Maurizio Molinari, is dismayed:

“For a government to prohibit a writer or any citizen from expressing themselves is an offence against freedom of expression, a key pillar of the rule of law protected by the EU treaties and proclaimed by the constitutions of our countries, and against a fundamental right of every human being. That is why the censorship of Scurati is not just an Italian case, but also a European wound. When the public television channels of an EU country don't show all opinions but select a certain one, then that's a problem for everyone. ... Unfortunately, Italy is neither the only nor the first EU country in which the executive is overreaching its powers to silence unwanted voices.”

Mediapart (FR) /

Clear struggle to control opinion

The problem goes beyond what is happening at RAI, Mediapart warns:

“The new government has appointed a number of people close to the government to RAI's management. Its budget has been cut by 150 million euros, provoking a five-day strike by staff on 17 April. ... But the issue of press freedom goes beyond public service television. The private news agency AGI has now been targeted by Lega MP Antonio Angelucci, who already owns several newspapers, including Il Giornale and Libero. The far right is waging a veritable culture war. In Meloni's Italy the battle for control of the media is now there for all to see.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Steady erosion of democratic values

What's going on in Italy should serve as a warning for all Europe, De Standaard writes:

“Because the censorship of an intellectual or a writer by the public media and political authorities is unacceptable in a democracy. Because this unprecedented incident shows what happens in many European countries as soon as parties that restrict the freedom of expression and by extension the rule of law come to power. ... In Scurati's view the threat is not that a dictatorship will come to power, as it did 100 years ago. ... This time the danger comes from the 'slow, daily and gradual' erosion of the foundations of democracy, of which the censorship that befell him is yet another harbinger.”

El País (ES) /

Forcing through illiberal policies

El País publishes an appeal signed by more than a thousand intellectuals for an end to the culture war in light of the proceedings against the classical philologist Luciano Canfora, who described Meloni as a "neo-Nazi at heart":

“Far from the moderate image she projects internationally, Meloni is trying to force through her ideology. She makes no secret of her intention to bring Italy closer to the illiberal model of Poland and Hungary. ... Her policies contain a cultural component that even extends to a cartoon series like Peppa Pig (one episode featured a young polar bear raised by a lesbian couple). In the words of cultural undersecretary Gianmarco Mazzi, the aim is to 'change the country's narrative'. All kinds of counterforces are being targeted: the public media, cultural institutions, celebrity presenters, investigative journalists and, of course, intellectuals. ... Canfora is the next in line.”