On the night of 4 March, unknown arsonists destroyed the famous City of Science centre in Naples. This shocking event has been publicly welcomed by some hard-line creationists in Italy, who disapprove of the teaching of evolution at the centre.
However, the minister for education and research, along with the mayor and the regional governor, have agreed to reconstruct the buildings within two years. The founder of the City of Science, physicist Vittorio Silvestrini, announced that the centre will open new exhibition areas in the surviving buildings and gardens this week — backed by donors and other science museums. In the week after the fire, about 10,000 people from Naples marched in protest against the arson attack.
The conservative commentators who instead seemed to rejoice at the centre's destruction include the national newspaper Il Foglio, which applauded the flames as purification against the scourge of evolutionism — “a nineteenth-century superstition” destined to bring young people to “despair and simian behaviours”. This inflammatory anti-Darwinism has been rapidly amplified on the Internet.
Italy's current climate of political uncertainty seems to have fostered an unexpected resurgence in creationism — with science education a prime target.