Ungentlemanly tale of Verona

3rd November 2000 at 00:00

THE strange case of a Verona RE teacher has caused a political furore.

In September, Luis Marsiglia was attacked outside his house by helmeted youths calling him a "Jewish bastard". The assault followed incidents in which the teacher seemed to be the target of a neo-Nazi hate campaign. Swastikas were painted on his wall, and he received anonymous messages telling him to leave his school.

Luis Marsiglia is a Uruguayan-born Jew who converted to Catholicism. He told reporters that this, plus the radical content of his lessons, may not have gone down well with some families.

In the press, Verona, not for the first time, was branded as a hotbed of racism. Questions were asked in parliament, and the minister of the interior made a strong statement about te town's intolerance and anti-Semitism. Showing his injuries on camera, the teacher told the world that he had every intention of staying at the school.

A local Catholic paper then discovered that Luis Marsiglia did not have a theology degree (as he had claimed), and that the diocese, which licenses RE teachers, was planning to transfer him. A month after the "assault", the teacher confessed that he had invented the story to avoid losing his job.

Opposition parties were swift to say the story had been manipulated by the ruling centre-left to discredit the right-wing administration of the town, and called for the resignation of the interior minister.

In the meantime, Luis Marsiglia, who faces a prison sentence for simulating a crime, has disappeared.

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