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Tags: Berlusconi.hate | debate | Italy

Berlusconi Attack Stirs Italy Hate Debate

Monday, 14 December 2009 11:29 PM EST

ROME -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was advised by doctors Monday to spend a second day in the hospital after his attack by a man with mental problems, as debate raged here over whether a new climate of hate was dominating Italy.

Berlusconi, 73, suffered cuts and a broken nose and teeth when Massimo Tartaglia hurled a model of Milan's Gothic cathedral at his face in that city on Sunday. Tartaglia, 42, who faces assault charges, was said to have no political affiliations and to have a crucifix and a pepper spray in his pocket. His father apologized and said his son is mentally unstable.

World leaders including Pope Benedict XVI sent Berlusconi goodwill messages, but Italian officials across the political spectrum engaged in recriminations that showed the polarizing nature of the media magnate's third stint as prime minister.

Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa, who said he saved the attacker from a public lynching in Milan's main square, said the attack was not an isolated case but rather the result of an "unprecedented" hate campaign mounted against Berlusconi.

Political forces and editorial groups were instilling "hatred," he said, mentioning the "No B Day" protest mounted in Rome by tens of thousands of demonstrators last week.

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Monday, 14 December 2009 11:29 PM
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