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Italy: Thousands gather for anti-fascist protest

October 16, 2021

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Rome to protest rising fascism in Italy. The action comes a week after right-wing groups stormed trade union headquarters.

Tens of thousands protest in Rome over neo-fascisim
Trade unions who organized the protest in Rome said 100,000 people had supported the anti-fascist marchImage: Andrew Medichini/AP/picture alliance

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of Italy's capital, Rome, for an anti-fascist protest. Italians and members of various trade unions gathered under the banner "No more fascism: For work, participation and democracy." 

Organizers of the event said upwards of 100,000 people gathered, while local media put the number closer to 50,000 people.

According to unions, hundreds of buses arrived from all over the country, while 10 special trains made their way to the capital. Security was tight, with various police units deployed.

Why are the protests taking place?

Last week, protests over the government's "green passport" had attracted thousands. Under new regulations, workers are required to carry a certificate showing proof of vaccination, a negative test or recovery from COVID-19.

The march, however, descended into violence as police and protesters clashed.

During the chaos, members of the radical right-wing party Forza Nuova, among other neofascist groups, attacked the headquarters of the left-leaning Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), and managed to break into its premises.

Police arrested 12 people, among them two far-right leaders.

Maurizio Landini, who is the head of CGIL, said Saturday's event was "a demonstration that defends democracy for everyone.”

Another union leader, Luigi Sbarra, said that, because of last week's attack, he had "made the only choice: to be here, united against all types of fascism." Sbarra called for government to dissolve the Forza Nuova party.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi condemned last week's violence and said those who tried to intimidate trade union members would be punished.

kb/csb (AP, dpa)