Rome - Italian Tourism Minister Michela Vittoria Brambilla was called on to resign Wednesday, following the emergence on the internet of a video appearing to show her making a fascist salute.
The footage, posted by Rome daily La Repubblica, refers to a June 5 ceremony honouring Italy's paramilitary police, the Carabinieri, in the northern city of Lecco.
According to left-leaning La Repubblica, the video captures in a "emotional" way the "very fascist" nature of Brambilla's gesture - until now only published in photographs.
The video shows Brambilla, her right arm solemnly folded over her chest, singing Italy's national anthem together with other dignitaries standing on a parade platform.
But as the music ends, Brambilla raises the arm stiffly upwards, mimicking the so-called Roman salute - the ancient greeting adopted in modern times by Benito Mussolini's Fascists and Adolf Hitler's Nazis.
Photographs of Brambilla's gesture that appeared in a local newspaper, Gazzetta di Lecco, the day after the ceremony, triggered anger among representatives of Italy's veterans association for World War II partisans, ANPI.
But 41-year-old Brambilla - a former Miss Italy contestant appointed to the cabinet in May by conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi - scoffed at allegations that she was paying homage to Italy's Fascist past.
She accused Italy's opposition left of "discussing the angle at which I raised my arm, in the absence of having anything serious to say."
On Wednesday following the video's posting, several opposition lawmakers said Brambilla should resign.
"The Roman salute is an insult to the values of the (anti-Fascist) Resistance that are the foundation of (Italy's) republican constitution which the minister has sworn to honour," centre-left Democratic Party lawmaker, Andrea Lulli, said in a statement.
He called on Brambilla to explain before parliament why she had chosen a gesture which shows "support for fascism." (dpa)
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