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22 Feb, 2010 14:27

Facebook page unites anti-Down Syndrome activists, sparks controversy

Facebook page unites anti-Down Syndrome activists, sparks controversy

An Italian page on the social networking website Facebook has brought together activists calling to use children with Down Syndrome for target practice, prompting outrage among officials and activists.

The group’s page, which by late Sunday had amassed more than 1,700 members including women, featured a photograph of a baby with Down Syndrome and the word “idiot” scrawled over it. The users referred to these children as “useless baggage” and “foul creatures”, proposing to use them as targets at shooting ranges.

Italian authorities and activists have denounced the web page and are rallying to have it shut down. More than 20,000 internet activists have united against the group, opening rival pages.

Italy’s equality minister Mara Carfagna has called the group “dangerous” and “unworthy of civilized society,” Corriere della Sera newspaper reports.

Inciting crime is the same thing as committing crime, and without a doubt it will be prosecuted,” said Carfagna. “Those guilty will be found and charged. The police are working to ban the group.”

However, it may take some time for the group’s page to be shut down due to the legal complexities, AFP news agency reported.

Recently, a Russian blogger had also stirred public debate and criticism by proposing to euthanize newborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome.