A Moroccan imam has been expelled from Italy after a video emerged online of a Friday sermon in which he publicly called for Jews to be killed "to the very last one".
Defence secretary Angelino Alfano said Muslim cleric Sheikh Abd Al-Barr al-Rawdhi's sermon, delivered in the northern Italian city of San Donà di Piave on 29 July, had a "clear anti-Semitic tone" and constitutes "incitement to violence and religious hatred".
"For this reason I disposed his immediate expulsion from the national territory," he said. "My decision is a warning for those who think that in Italy it's possible to preach hatred".
The video was translated by pro-Israel lobby group Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) but it was originally published on an Islamist forum. In the footage, the cleric asks the crowd "what can we possibly expect from the Jews whose hearts are harder than stone?"
He continues begging Allah "to bring upon them that which will make us happy".
"Count them one by one and kill them to the very last one. Do not spare a single one of them. Turn their food to poison, make the air they breath blazing hot, make their slumber full of grief and make their days black. Plant fear in their hearts," he can be heard saying.
Memri was accused in the past of disseminating inaccurate translations to portray Muslims in a negative light. However, the defence minister stressed that the imam's expulsion was backed by evidences collected by Italy's Anti Terrorism centre and the General Investigations and Special Operations Division.
Unlike Paris, where troublemakers clashed with police and attacked kosher stores and synagogues, including several that were firebombed, Italy has not seen any major anti-Jewish incidents so far. However tensions fuelled by conflict in the Middle East erupted in Rome at the beginning of the month.
Last week, anti-Semitic graffiti and flyers defaced shops and walls in Rome's historical Jewish San Giovanni neighbourhood raising fears of a rise in anti-Jewish sentiment in the capital.
Swastika graffiti and posters reading "Anne Frank storyteller" have appeared on Appia Nuova street. Other posters depicting a Palestinian throwing a rock towards an Israeli tank were attached on walls in Cola di Rienzo street, in the leafy Prati neighbourhood.