Madrid City official resigns over Holocaust joke on Twitter

The tweet by Guillermo Zapata, dating back to 2011, joked about the Holocaust and gas chambers used by the Nazis

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Madrid’s new cultural affairs commissioner resigned from his post Monday - just two days after being sworn in - after it emerged he had joked on Twitter about the Holocaust.

The tweet by Guillermo Zapata, dating back to 2011, joked about the Holocaust and gas chambers used by the Nazis. Zapata said he strongly condemned anti-Semitism, but the emergence of the online post sparked outrage in Spain.

Another tweet from the same year had taken aim at Irene Villa, a journalist who lost her legs in a bombing by the Basque separatist group ETA.

Zapata’s resignation comes just two days after he was sworn into Madrid’s new municipal government. He will remain a member of the city council.

“I want to apologise to those who may have been affected by the tweets I made in recent years,” the 35-year-old told a news conference.

Zapata was elected as part of a list put forward by Ahora Madrid, a platform which ran in local elections last month made up of neighbourhood associations and far-left parties, such as the anti-austerity Podemos.

While Ahora Madrid came in second place in the voting, it formed a coalition with the Socialists to remove the conservative Popular Party, which controls the national government, from power in the capital.

The platform fielded several candidates who had no experience in public life, including Zapata, who previously worked as a television scriptwriter.

Zapata said his jokes -- which appeared between quotation marks -- had been prompted by a debate on the limits of humour and were taken out of context.

He closed his Twitter account after Spanish media threw the spotlight on the jokes, sparking calls for his resignation from opposition councillors and Jewish groups.

“I repeat, I am absolutely not anti-Semitic. I reject all types of violence...all types of terrorism,” Zapata said.

He also vowed to write letters to people who may have been affected by his Tweets, “especially the Jewish community”, to explain himself.

These message “could profoundly disturb the work which I wanted to carry out in the area of culture and sports... and as a result it seemed that the responsible thing to do was to get out of the way,” Zapata said.

Another Ahora Madrid councillor, 35-year-old Pablo Soto, apologised on Sunday for having made incendiary comments on social media in 2012 and 2013 about Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and other conservative politicians.