Neo-fascists exploit ‘no-vax’ rage, posing dilemma for Italy

Oct 12, 2021, 6:48 PM | Updated: Oct 13, 2021, 8:12 am
FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021 file photo, demonstrators and police clash during a protest, ...

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021 file photo, demonstrators and police clash during a protest, in Rome. An extreme-right political party's violent exploitation of anger over government anti-pandemic restrictions is forcing Italy to wrestle with its fascist legacy and fueling fears that there could be a replay of last week's mobs trying to force their way toward Parliament. (Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP)

(Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP)

ROME (AP) — An extreme-right party’s violent exploitation of anger over Italy’s coronavirus restrictions is forcing authorities to wrestle with the country’s fascist legacy and fueling fears there could be a replay of last week’s mobs trying to force their way to Parliament.

Starting Friday, anyone entering workplaces in Italy must have received at least one vaccine dose, or recovered from COVID-19 recently or tested negative within two days, using the country’s Green Pass to prove their status. Italians already use the pass to enter restaurants, theaters, gyms and other indoor entertainment, or to take long-distance buses, trains or domestic flights.

But 10,000 opponents of that government decree turned out in Rome’s vast Piazza del Popolo last Saturday in a protest that degenerated into alarming violence.

It’s the mixing and overlap of the extreme right and those against Italy’s vaccine mandates that are causing worries, even though those opposed to vaccines are still a distinct minority in a country where 80% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

Incited by the political extreme right at the rally, thousands marched through the Italian capital on Saturday and hundreds rampaged their way through the headquarters of the left-leaning CGIL labor union. Police foiled their repeated attempts to reach the offices of Italy’s premier and the seat of Parliament.

The protesters smashed union computers, ripped out phone lines and trashed offices after first trying to use metal bars to batter their way in through CGIL’s front door, then breaking in through a window. Unions have backed the Green Pass as a way to make Italy’s workplaces safer.

CGIL leader Maurizio Landini immediately drew parallels to attacks a century ago by Benito Mussolini’s newly minted Fascists against labor organizers as he consolidated his dictatorship’s grip on Italy.

To some watching the violence unfold, the attack also evoked images of the Jan. 6 assault by angry mob of the U.S. Capitol as part of protests over President Donald Trump’s failed reelection bid.

“What we witnessed in the last days was something truly shocking,” said Ruth Dureghello, president of the Jewish Community of Rome.

Premier Mario Draghi told reporters that his government is “reflecting” on parliamentary motions lodged or backed by leftist, populist and centrist parties this week urging the government to outlaw Forza Nuova, the extreme-right party whose leaders encouraged the attack on the union office.

On Monday, upon the orders of Rome prosecutors, Italy’s telecommunications police force took down Forza Nuova’s website for alleged criminal instigation.

Hours after the CGIL attack, scores of anti-vaccine protesters also invaded a hospital emergency room where a demonstrator, feeling ill, had been taken, frightening patients and leaving two nurses and three police officers injured.

In response, Rome will see two more marches this Saturday: one by opponents of the Green Pass and another to show solidarity for CGIL and provide what Landini describes as an “antidote to violence.”

Police and intelligence officials huddled Wednesday on how to handle possible violence due to the start of the workplace virus mandate and the twin demonstrations.

Sunday will also see a runoff mayoral election in Rome between a center-left candidate and a right-wing candidate chosen by the leader of a fast-growing national opposition party with neo-fascist roots.

Among the dozen people arrested in Saturday’s violence are a co-founder of Forza Nuova (New Force) and its Rome leader. Also jailed are a founder of the now-defunct extreme-right militant group Armed Revolutionaries Nuclei, which terrorized Italy in the 1980s, and a restaurateur from northern Italy who defied a national lockdown early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dureghello described the “thuggery” in Rome as a “grave, painful phenomenon, organized by those who want to create disorder on one hand and orient consensus” by drawing on prejudice in Italian society. In a tweet, she called for an urgent investigation into “neo-fascist movements and the network that supports them.”

Also upsetting Italy’s tiny Jewish community have been antisemitic comments by a Rome mayoral candidate selected by Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy, Parliament’s main opposition party. It recently emerged that Enrico Michetti in 2020 wrote that the Holocaust receives so much attention because Jews “possess banks.” He has since apologized for “having hurt the feelings” of Jews.

In the first round of municipal balloting in Rome, Rachele Mussolini, a granddaughter of the dictator, won the highest number of votes for a council post.

Meloni has long dodged demands by opponents that she unequivocally denounce the legacy of Mussolini’s Fascist rule.

On Wednesday, speaking in Parliament, Meloni distanced her party from Forza Nuova while criticizing the Green Pass workplace rule.

“We are light years distant from any kind of subversive movement, in particular Forza Nuova,” she said. She then accused Draghi’s broad coalition, assembled earlier this year to lead the country through the pandemic, of “pretending not to see that Saturday in the street there were people demonstrating their dissent about not having a government (Green) pass and not recognizing their right to work.”

Meloni “lives on ambiguity, she has one foot in the legacy of fascism,´´ said Antonio Parisella, a retired professor of contemporary Italian history.

Prevalent in much of Italian society is the idea “that Mussolini did good things,” such as the common “myth” that he made the trains run on time and eradicated malaria, said Parisella, who directs Rome’s Liberation Museum.

“The hostility toward the (Green) pass, the aversion to the vaccine” are something that “the post-fascist right well knows how to utilize,´´ Donatella Di Cesare, a Rome university philosophy professor, wrote on the front page of the La Stampa newspaper.

Milan anti-terrorism prosecutor Alberto Nobili told Radio 24 this week that in addition to the extreme right demonstrating “under the no-vax symbol,” investigators in that city have found that “anarchist groups and extreme left groups” are also trying to exploit public anger.

Elsewhere in Europe, from Slovenia to Greece, some far-right parties have joined forces with the anti-vaccine movement.

In France, the situation is more complicated. Some far-right leaders teamed up with anti-vaccine protesters. But firebrand Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party in France did not call for such protests and she is vaccinated. Many anti-vaccine protesters in France have refused to march with the far right.

___

Colleen Barry contributed from Milan and Sylvie Corbet contributed from Paris.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Designer Virgil Abloh walks backstage prior to his Off-White ready to wear Fall-Winter 2019-...
Associated Press

Fashion designer Virgil Abloh dies of cancer at 41

NEW YORK (AP) — Designer Virgil Abloh, a leading fashion executive hailed as the Karl Lagerfeld of his generation, has died after a private battle with cancer. He was 41. Abloh’s death was announced Sunday by the luxury group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) and the Off White label, the brand Abloh founded. Abloha was […]
1 day ago
This image released by Disney shows Mirabel, voiced by Stephanie Beatriz, in a scene from the anima...
Associated Press

‘Encanto,’ ‘House of Gucci’ fuel Thanksgiving box office

NEW YORK (AP) — Thanksgiving weekend moviegoing was still far from the feast it normally is, but Disney’s “Encanto” and the Lady Gaga-led “House of Gucci” both gave a lift to two genres that have been particularly battered by the pandemic: family movies and adult dramas. “Encanto” led the box office with $27 million over […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Asian leaders at economic summit vow to help Afghanistan

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — The leaders of several Asian countries called for boosting their economic ties and pledged to provide assistance to Afghanistan during a summit in Turkmenistan on Sunday. The countries, which are part of the 10-member Economic Cooperation Organization that includes Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and six ex-Soviet nations, called for removing trade […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Israel to allow 3,000 Ethiopian Jews to immigrate

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s government on Sunday approved the immigration of several thousand Jews from war-torn Ethiopia, some of whom have waited for decades to join their relatives in Israel. The decision took a step toward resolving an issue that has long complicated the government’s relations with the country’s Ethiopian community. Some 140,000 Ethiopian Jews […]
1 day ago
Health workers at the Motol University Hospital carry one of the patients with COVID-19, who was t...
Associated Press

Thousands protest coronavirus restrictions in Czech capital

PRAGUE (AP) — Thousands rallied in the Czech capital of Prague on Sunday to protest the government’s restrictive measures to tackle a record surge of coronavirus infections. The protesters included members and supporters of a number of fringe political parties and groups that failed to win any parliamentary seats in October’s election. It was their […]
1 day ago
Israeli President Isaac Herzog lights candles during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah in Hebron's hol...
Associated Press

Israeli president celebrates Hanukkah at West Bank site

HEBRON, West Bank (AP) — Israel’s president on Sunday visited one of the most contentious spots in the occupied West Bank to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, sparking scuffles between Israeli security forces and protesters. President Isaac Herzog said he was visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron to celebrate the ancient city’s […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Neo-fascists exploit ‘no-vax’ rage, posing dilemma for Italy