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POLITICS

Italy evicts Bannon-backed rightwing “boot camp” from monastery

Italy's culture ministry said it had evicted a would-be "gladiator school" for right-wing populists from a 13th-century Italian monastery, in a blow to former Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

Italy evicts Bannon-backed rightwing “boot camp” from monastery
The Certosa di Trisulti monastery on the slopes of Mount Rotonari. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Students from across the globe had been readying to learn how to “defend the West” at the far-right political boot camp run by the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI) and funded by Bannon, ex-chief strategist for US President Donald Trump.

FOCUS: Trouble at Italy's 'Gladiator school' for far-right

The ministry said on Thursday that the DHI had falsely claimed to have the necessary requisites to take part in a tender to lease the monastery.

The institute had been given use of the site for 19 years in February 2018, but the ministry began proceedings to oust it earlier this year after allegations of misconduct.

Benjamin Harnwell, a close associate of Bannon, had been preparing to renovate parts of the former monastery, with its frescoed ceilings, Baroque chapel, library, and 18th-century pharmacy.

Benjamin Harnwell, Director of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute  poses at the Trisulti Monastery in May 2019. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

He had hoped to offer a small number of students the first three-week course later this year, and had been in the process of getting planning permission to put bathrooms in the monk cells, redo the sewer system and install Internet access.

Bannon, who since being ousted from the White House spends his days espousing right-wing populism in Europe, had pledged $1 million to the project.

Member comments

  1. I have considerable sympathy with the idea of upholding and even promoting the ideas of a Judaeo-Christian ethic. After all, the two religions have been the basis of the western world’s ethic for centuries and has led, in general, to much good.

    I do not know what is really going on with the group in question in this article and whether the word ‘populist’ is yet again being misapplied but I do think that our so called western society and Christendom in general in the west needs support in respect to the forces which are opposed to it. From this basic ethic grew, in due course, justice and democracy which have underpinned all ‘western’ nations. To lose these and other benefits because of apathy or misplaced understanding would be disastrous. Whether Trisulti is the way to do forward is debteable. I probably would question aspects of its thinking but it should be considered and debated not assumed to be a ‘boot camp for the far right’ without a full understanding of its workings.

    And in the end if citizens of nations in the western world wish to preserve the qualities of life their Judaeo-Christian based societies have engendered, then someone has to stand up and say so.

  2. CORRECTION TO COMMENT ABOVE:

    Whether Trisulti is the way to do forward is debteable – should read as: Whether Trisulti is the way forward is debateable.

  3. F Hugh Eveleigh, you are sadly misinformed if you think that anything Steve Bannon is involved in has something to do with a Judeo-Christian ethic. Really, are you kidding?

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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Berlusconi to run for Senate in Italy’s elections

Scandal-plagued former premier Silvio Berlusconi said he plans to return to Italy's parliament in upcoming elections, almost a decade after being forced out over a conviction for tax fraud.

Berlusconi to run for Senate in Italy's elections

“I think that, in the end, I will be present myself as a candidate for the Senate, so that all these people who asked me will finally be happy,” the 85-year-old billionaire and media mogul told Rai radio on Wednesday.

After helping bring down Prime Minister Mario Draghi last month by withdrawing its support, Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party looks set to return to power in elections on September 25th.

It is part of a right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy, which includes Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration League.

Berlusconi brushed off reports he is worried about the possibility of Meloni – whose motto is “God, country and family” – becoming prime minister.

Noting the agreement between the parties that whoever wins the most votes chooses the prime minister, he said: “If it is Giorgia, I am sure she will prove capable of the difficult task.”

READ ALSO: Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

But he urged voters to back his party as the moderate voice in the coalition, emphasising its European, Atlanticist stance.

“Every extra vote in Forza Italia will strengthen the moderate, centrist profile of the coalition,” he said in a separate interview published Wednesday in the Il Giornale newspaper.

League party leader Matteo Salvini (L), Fratelli d’Italia leader Giorgia Meloni and Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi pictured in October 2021. The trio look set to take power following snap elections in September. Photo by CLAUDIO PERI / ANSA / AFP

Berlusconi was Italy’s prime minister three times in the 1990s and 2000s, but has dominated public life for far longer as head of a vast media and sports empire.

The Senate expelled him in November 2013 following his conviction for tax fraud, and he was banned from taking part in a general election for six years.

He was elected to the European Parliament in 2019, however, and threw his hat in the ring earlier this year to become Italy’s president — although his candidacy was predictably short-lived.

Berlusconi remains a hugely controversial figure  in Italy and embroiled in the many legal wrangles that have characterised his long career.

He remains on trial for allegedly paying guests to lie about his notorious “bunga-bunga” sex parties while prime minister.

Berlusconi has also suffered a string of health issues, some related to his hospitalisation for coronavirus in September 2020, after which he said he had almost died.

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