MILAN (AP) — European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has come under fire for comments praising Italian dictator Bettino Mussolini.

Tajani told Radio 24 Wednesday evening that Mussolini did some "positive things," including improving Italy's infrastructure, until "he declared war on the entire world, following Hitler, until he promoted the racial laws" that restricted the rights of Jews.

Tajani, who is a member of Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, was criticized from across the political spectrum, inside and outside of Italy.

Italy has struggled to come to terms with its fascist past and the rise of populism has brought reminders of Mussolini's two-decades in power until his execution in 1945.

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