Benito Mussolini speeches become Apple iTunes hit
A collection of speeches by Benito Mussolini has become an unlikely and controversial hit on the internet.
Since the application was launched on Jan 21, it has been downloaded about 1,000 times a day Photo: AP
The speeches, the last of which was delivered in 1938 when Italy introduced laws which discriminated against Jews, are the second-most downloaded application on the Italian version of Apple's iTunes website.
The popularity of the application, called iMussolini, caused outrage among some Italians in the week that the country commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day – the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet forces.
The website was inundated with comments condemning the continuing fascination with Mussolini and a member of the Italian Communist Party called the application "disgraceful".
It contains 100 of Il Duce's speeches and can be bought for 79 euro cents, or 68 pence.
It was downloaded more than a video game based on the blockbuster science fiction film Avatar. The most downloaded item was a wallpaper application.
The Mussolini application was created by a 25-year-old from Naples, Luigi Marino, who said he in no way wanted to "eulogise" the fascist era.
Instead he wanted to document a "sad page in the history of our country", he said in a disclaimer on the AppStore site.
Since the application was launched on Jan 21, it has been downloaded about 1,000 times a day.
"The first day it was downloaded only 55 times, the second day more than 600 and from the third day I had on average 1,000 downloads a day," Mr Marino said.
He said he was thinking of collating the speeches of other historical figures and offering them for sale. "To avoid controversy, maybe I'll do one on Gandhi," he said.
Its popularity was "stunning", said La Repubblica newspaper, given that iTunes is popular with the Facebook generation, rather than "nostalgic old people and historians of fascism". Mussolini was killed by anti-fascist partisans in northern Italy at the end of the war.
But 65 years after he was strung up alongside his lover, Mussolini souvenirs continue to do a brisk trade online and in his hometown of Predappio, in north-eastern Italy.
Fascist memorabilia includes Mussolini busts, an aftershave called Nostalgia contained in a box bearing the fascist eagle symbol, and sweatshirts bearing the initials WIDS – Viva Il Duce Sempre (Mussolini Lives Forever).
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