The Italians have always been that little bit different – the fiery temperament, the penchant for living at home into their mid-thirties and a fondness for hair gel that has kept the industry alive for generations. It should be no surprise then that unlike other countries around Europe who might have CoPilot Live, The Sims, Scrabble or Worms at the top of their iPhone Apps bestsellers, the current favourite in Italy is a collection of the speeches of Benito Mussolini.
While this might sound like a gag from an updated version of Allo Allo, it’s true and it has also been the source of fierce condemnation from Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors. iMussolini – subtitled ‘The man who changed the history of our country’ has, according to The Times, reached the point where it is being downloaded over a thousand times a day.
Its creator, Luigi Marino has defended his creation by pointing out that said Mussolini’s speeches are freely available in libraries throughout the country and denied he was a apologist for Facism, claiming instead that he expresses “total solidarity with its victims”. He asked people who downloaded the app not to post comments in praise of Fascism. iPhone Italy said the application was “not a political item but one of history”.
The app, which costs 79 cents, contains audio, video and text of 100 speeches dating to 1914. In the US Elan Steinberg, vice-president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said: “It is a disgrace and a surrender to crass commercialism that the Apple computing company has approved the release of this ‘app’ through their online iTunes store.”
Steinberg’s views were echoed by Leone Soued, head of the Jewish community in Milan, said: “One can hope it will not be a success, but I can understand why the man in the street might download it.”