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Italy Official’s Remark Angers Jewish Groups

Associated Press

Jewish groups in Italy and abroad demanded Friday that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi denounce a Cabinet minister for suggesting “the New York Jewish lobby” was behind the plunging lira.

Labor Minister Clemente Mastella later apologized, but the World Jewish Congress said it would complain to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

Berlusconi has been criticized, particularly in Western Europe, for including the National Alliance in his 3-month-old conservative coalition. The party was formed about a year ago by members of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement who renounced their roots.

The flap began Thursday after the Bank of Italy unexpectedly raised the discount rate to halt the lira’s slide.

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Mastella suggested the currency’s decline was part of a plot against the government.


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