ROME Italian police are investigating an anti-Semitic blog listing the names of more than 150 "Jewish university professors," which was removed from the Internet after protests from politicians and Jewish leaders.
The blog, by an anonymous author, listed the names and workplaces of university professors which it accused of "publicly and politically" supporting Israel.
It was taken down in the early afternoon on Friday, said Emanuele Fini, one of the heads of blog site www.ilcannocchiale.it, where the blog was first posted on January 16.
Interior Minister Giuliano Amato ordered police to investigate the case.
"The Internet has become the main tool for spreading anti-Semitic hatred," said Alessandro Ruben of the Anti-Defamation League in Italy.
Education Minister Giuseppe Fioroni called the blog a shameful "kind of Ku Klux Klan of the digital age."
The blog had links to far-right websites and themes like Holocaust revisionism, appeals to boycott Israel and war-time fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Some professors listed on the blog are not Jewish but had signed pro-Israel petitions.
There was a heated debate earlier this month on whether Italy's biggest book fair had a right to invite top Israeli writers as special guests.
The Turin annual fair, which this year will run from May 8-12, invited Amos Oz, David Grossman and Abraham Yehousha to mark Israel's 60th anniversary. The decision sparked protests by some leftists, who felt the fair was taking a political stance and called for a boycott of its stands.
(Reporting by Massimiliano Di Giorgio, writing by Silvia Aloisi; editing by Robert Woodward)