Police raid "Fascist beach club"

  ROME --Thousands of Italians nostalgic for Benito Mussolini’s dictatorship this summer are relaxing at a self-proclaimed “Fascist beach” club where bathing huts are decorated with pictures of Il Duce,  signs exalt the gas chambers and sunbathers exchange stiff-armed salutes, la Repubblica newspaper has disclosed.

 Police officers from Italy’s Digos anti-terrorist unit, the equivalent of Britain’s Special Branch, raided the “Punta Canna” beach club at the Adriatic resort of Chioggia Sunday and took photos and other evidence at the request of a Venice magistrate who opened an inquiry after the newspaper disclosed the existence of the far-right enclave.  Judicial sources said owner Gianni Scarpa, aged 64, could be prosecuted for the offence of “apologia of fascism” and the beach club with space for 650 holidaymakers could be closed.

 A placard at the entrance to the club’s car park declares an “Anti democratic, regime-run zone. Don’t break our balls,” while another along a path to the sand says “Rules – order, cleanliness, discipline, severity … defence of property shooting at close range, if you don’t like it I don’t give a toss!” and “service for customers only, otherwise truncheons to the teeth!”

 A sign for the club lavatories says “these are the toilets for him, for her, for lesbians and gays.”

“My rules are in force here,” Scarpa says, standing in front of a white cabin door decorated with the words “Gas chamber, entry forbidden.”

 Every 30 minutes Scarpa broadcasts “communiques” over club loudspeakers to his customers, exalting Mussolini and attacking democracy, which he tells them, “disgusts me,” while pledging to fight against “the human scum in the world, which is 50 percent who luckily can’t come in here.”

 Scarpa added that drugs, the bane of many Italian beaches, have no place at his club. “I am in favour of total extermination of drug addicts.”

 The existence of the bizarre holiday centre was slammed by Noemi Di Segni, president of the Italian Jewish Community. “I am very disturbed … it is grave that it is left up to journalism, and not the authorities, to denounce such shameful cases,” she said.

 “Where are the politicians and institutions who should be vigilant? The images we have seen are an outrage to the memories of the Shoah and offence to the democratic institutions of our country.”

 (an edited version of this article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph)