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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 23:29 GMT
Anti-Semitic blog angers Italians
Chapel at La Sapienza University
Pope Benedict XVI cancelled a visit to the university after protests
Political and community leaders in Italy have denounced an internet blog accusing 162 Jewish university professors of creating a Zionist lobby.

Most of those named are from La Sapienza university, where last month several academics signed a petition objecting to a visit by Pope Benedict.

The resulting backlash on the internet included diatribes against Jews and communists.

The blog, which has now been taken down, carried anti-Semitic slogans.

The Jewish community in the city called on the institutions to block what it called a "cancer" that could spread.

Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato called for the blog's authors to be prosecuted.

The BBC's Frances Kennedy in Rome says that for older Italians, this incident recalls the 1938 race laws passed by the dictator Benito Mussolini.

Under those laws, Jewish students were expelled from schools, Jews were banned from state jobs and also forbidden to marry outside their race.

The laws paved the way for the eventual deportation of some 8,000 Italian Jews, many of whom died in concentration camps.

Last month, Pope Benedict XVI cancelled a visit to the university after lecturers and students protested against his views on the 17th Century astronomer Galileo.

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