Galeazzo Bignami, a lawmaker of the rightist Brothers of Italy party who sparked outrage in 2016 after a newspaper published a picture of him wearing a Nazi swastika on his left arm, was named junior infrastructure minister on Monday.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who personally announced Bignami’s appointment at a news conference, is the leader of Brothers of Italy, a group which traces its roots to the post-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI).
Bignami, 47, was elected last month to a second term in parliament. He has long been part of the Italian hard-right but has spent part of his political career in former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s more moderate Forza Italia.
He said in a statement on Monday that he felt “profound shame” for the pictures and firmly condemned “any form of totalitarianism,” calling Nazism and any movement connected to it “the absolute evil”.
Meloni did not comment on the 2016 photo but repeatedly condemned the infamous racist, anti-Jewish laws enacted by dictator Benito Mussolini in 1938 and last week told parliament she “never felt any sympathy for fascism”.
“I have always considered the (anti-Semitic) racial laws of 1938 the lowest point of Italian history, a shame that will taint our people forever,” she said in parliament.
Bignami will serve under the right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini, who is the infrastructure minister and deputy prime minister.