Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris has claimed that episodes of violent crimes skyrocket in the city whenever the popular TV series Gomorrah is shown.
De Magistris, a former public prosecutor elected mayor eight years ago on an anti-corruption and left-leaning agenda, told an Italian radio station that a debate was needed about “symbols of evil” that enthrall young people in the city.
“They don’t want to choose culture, honesty, social redemption, living with other people, but violence, gangs (and) arrogance,” he said during Radio 24’s “Uno, nessuno,100Milan” program on Monday.
Asked whether he was referring to “Gomorrah,” the Sky Atlantic hit series adapted from Roberto Saviano’s blockbuster book on the Camorra mafia, De Magistris said the show’s influence was the subject of “a heartfelt debate in Naples.”
“It’s not only my opinion – even though I worked 11 years as a prosecutor and eight years as mayor – but it’s also the view of doctors, police officers, and teachers.”
“Let’s talk about the fact that in the evenings after the TV series is aired, episodes of violence increase, and that happens often,” he went on. “It means there’s a theme of the negative model or symbolism of the evil. If one wants to deny it and say ‘long live Saviano’ regardless, it makes a resounding mistake.”
The mayor has often clashed with Saviano, who he accused in 2017 of “building an empire off the backs off Naples and Neapolitans”.
It is not clear what statistics de Magistris is referring to. CNN has contacted the mayor’s office for comment.
His comments came after a 3-year-old girl named Noemi was wounded by a stray bullet along with her grandmother in a shooting in Naples last Friday.
The girl is in a serious condition at the local hospital, according to Italy’s ANSA news agency. “A bullet passed through her lungs from right to left, without injuring her heart, sticking in her ribs,” said the general manager of the Santobono Hospital, Anna Maria Minicucci.
In a long Facebook post after his radio interview, de Magistris doubled down on his criticism of the TV show, while attacking far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini who he says “made Italy less secure and more violent.”
He appealed to the state to “help us destroy the … model – for some a shamefully winning one – of the (s**t) heroes of Gomorrah.”
It “is likely to corrode the brains, souls, and hearts of hundreds of very young people,” he added.
The Italian mob series, which just finished its fourth season, is set in Naples and is a crude, gritty depiction of life in the Camorra mafia.