iPhone application provokes protests

ROME — An iPhone application offering Benito Mussolini speeches has angered Holocaust survivors after it became Italy’s top app seller.

The iMussolini app, which costs $1.99 on the Italian iTunes store, contains audio, video and text of 100 fiery speeches by the Fascist dictator, who came to power in 1922 and introduced anti-semitic race laws in 1938 when Italy was an ally of Nazi Germany.

The app, the full title of which is “iMussolini: The Man Who Changed the History of our Country,” was being downloaded at a rate of about 1,000 times a day at the weekend, according to Luigi Marino, the 25-year-old Neapolitan computer programmer who created the controversial content and put iMussolini on the market in tandem with iTunes on Jan. 21.

“I would like to make it clear that this history-related application does not celebrate Fascism,” Marino wrote in its publicity notes. iPhone Italy has also said the application is “not a political item.”

But that hasn’t stopped an onslaught of protest from Italy and beyond. On Sunday the New York-based American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants slammed Apple, calling iMussolini “a disgrace and a surrender to crass commercialism.”

Italy’s La Repubblica paper called the app a “flabbergasting phenomenon,” noting that its customers “aren’t nostalgic old people and historians of the Fascist era but kids and young adults who spend time and money on the Internet and get their information from it.”

Meanwhile Marino, who has said Apple has assured him it will not remove the app from sale, is busy making iMussolini iPad compatible.

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