A Holocaust survivor and writer has joined several other authors in a boycott of the upcoming Turin book fair in Italy over the planned attendance of a publisher with close links to a neo-fascist party.
Halina Birenbaum was due to appear at the event, but her sponsor, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, said on Tuesday it could not ask survivors to “share space with those who question the historical facts that led to the Holocaust".
It comes amid controversy over the participation of Altaforte, a company said to have close links with CasaPound and which will soon publish a book of interviews with Interior Minister and right-wing populist League leader, Matteo Salvini.
Altaforte’s director, Francesco Polacchi told Italian news agency ANSA: "I am a fascist. Anti-fascism is the real ill of this country."
Others who have said they will boycott the event, which runs from Thursday until Monday, include historian Carlo Ginzburg, the cartoonist Zerocalcare, and art historians Salvatore Settis and Tomaso Montanari.
Organisers responded on social media on Tuesday by insisting the event was “anti-fascist” and should be seen as “a place of confrontation and debate".
That view was supported by some writers, including Michela Murgia who wrote on Facebook that she will attend as it is important "to be there to defend our ideas.” She used the hashtag #IoVadoATorino — “I go to Turin.”
Casa Pound was founded in 2003 as is named after the American poet and fascist, Ezra Pound.
The controversy has echoes of the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair at which 400 militants of right and left groups clashed over the attendance of Björn Höcke, a spokesman for the parliamentary group of the ultra-right party AfD.
Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, told Euronews on Tuesday said it was important to "endure polarising authors and opinions and to deal with them argumentatively."