Page last updated at 21:26 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Cash to name kids after Mussolini

By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

Benito and his wife Rachele Mussolini with their children in 1930
The names Benito and Rachele are rarely used in Italy these days

A far-right Italian party is offering 1,500 euros ($1,900) to parents who name their children after the fascist dictator Mussolini or his wife.

The small Movimento Sociale-Fiamma Tricolore (MS-FT) party denies its gesture is racist and says the names Benito and Rachele are merely "nice".

The party also wants parents to buy cribs, clothes and food with the money.

The cash incentive is available in five areas of southern Italy and is designed to help the region's low birth rate.

Together the names Benito and Rachele mean only one thing to Italians - they signify their former dictator and his wife.

But the party says the choice of names is what it called "purely casual".

It says the move has no fascist or racist undertones, although it insists at least one parent is Italian.

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