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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 October, 2004, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
EU nominee 'victim of hate drive'
Rocco Buttiglione
Victim of an anti-Catholic witch-hunt?
The would-be EU commissioner for justice who has been criticised for his remarks on gays and single mums says he is the victim of a hate campaign.

Rocco Buttiglione said there was an anti-Christian "inquisition" in the EU.

The Italian candidate has attracted widespread criticism because of his views on homosexuality and marriage.

The Civil Liberties Committee voted against his nomination, but Commission President-designate Jose Manuel Barroso said he stood by his team as a whole.

"There is a hate campaign against me, everything I say is wrongly interpreted," Mr Buttiglione told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

"The problem is that they want to condemn Buttiglione whatever he says and this isn't good for democracy," he added.

"Maybe we are being faced by a sort of 'Berufsverbot' against Christians," he argued, referring to a German law which barred people with certain political views from becoming civil servants.

"I'm really curious about how it will all end up. My case regards the relationship between conscience and politics."

On Friday, Mr Buttiglione was reported as saying that single mums were not very good people, but he later said his quote had been taken out of context.

Mr Buttiglione, a university professor of philosophy and a devout Catholic, who wrote a book about Pope John Paul II, is the first candidate to the EU Commission ever to be rejected by an assembly panel.

The European Parliament can only reject the proposed commission as a whole - it has no right to veto individual candidates.

Socialists MEPs have already threatened to use their power of veto if Mr Buttiglione is to keep his portfolio as justice and home affairs commissioner.

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