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AROUND 100,000 anti-fascist demonstrators rallied in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo at the weekend in the wake of growing anti-refugee violence.
It was the last weekend for political rallies before Italy's March 4 national election and the Rome protest was one of at least a dozen marches or rallies held in several cities by both left and right.
The Rome mobilisation was organised by a coalition including the CGIL militant trade union federation, the National Association of Italian Partisans (Anpi) and the Communist Refoundation party. Democratic Party Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and a number of his ministers joined the protest.
Justice Minister Andrea Orlando warned that fascism "is a danger in Italy and Europe and equally dangerous is the underestimation of this phenomenon.”
Anpi president Carla Nespolo said: “We are here to say no to fascism and racism, which are a danger today for democracy and coexistence.
“It’s said that, if you don’t know your history, you are doomed to live it again. We don’t want to repeat the tragedies of fascism and nazism,” Ms Nespolo declared.
What frightened her most was the “indifference, superficiality and ignorance” that allows fascist ideologies to take root.
“I’m worried about this fascist and racist revival, but I don’t think we should panic, because there’s an overwhelming majority of anti-fascist people, but we need to be united in providing a barrier against xenophobia and fascist nostalgia.”
“We see fascist groups taking roots in schools,” said secondary school student union leader Giammarco Manfreda, demanding “a courageous stance” from politicians.
“It is inconceivable that the neofascist leaders are still allowed to compete for votes,” he said.
The Anpi has been circulating a petition to ban neofascist parties such as CasaPound, whose leader Simone Di Stefano is running for prime minister, and Forza Nuova from future elections.
“They claim they aren’t fascist. They say they are Italians for Italians, but it’s just camouflage,” Ms Nespolo said.
Election campaigning officially ends on March 2, with opinion polls indicating a hung parliament between three blocs — the Democratic Party-led centre-left, the right headed by convicted fraudster Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the anti-migrant Five Star Movement.
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