Neo-Fascist Salute Raises Alarms: Calls for Disbandment and Political Fallout in Italy

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Activists of the Italian neo-fascist movement CasaPound perform the Roman salute, on January 7, 2018, in Rome, in tribute to three young far-right activists killed in the same spot on January 7, 1978. ALESSANDRO DI MEO / EPA/MAXPPP

By ISSG Staff

ROME, Italy — Italy has been thrust into a state of shock and outrage as a video emerged, revealing a group of individuals engaging in a neo-fascist salute during a political rally. The incident has sparked widespread condemnation, with calls for the disbandment of neo-fascist organizations and concerns about the country’s political landscape.

The video captures a disturbing scene where participants, dressed in black, stand in unison while performing the fascist salute. This display, reminiscent of Italy’s dark history under Benito Mussolini, has raised deep concerns about the resurgence of far-right ideologies in the country.

Francesco Vezzoli, a prominent Italian contemporary artist, expressed his distress, stating, “You see them all moving as one, and that’s very upsetting and very worrying as an image.” The footage has ignited a fierce debate about the implications of such displays in a democratic society.

The leader of Italy’s main opposition Democratic Party, Elly Schlein, drew parallels to 1924, a significant year in which Mussolini solidified his rule, leading the country into a one-party dictatorship aligned with Nazi Germany. Schlein took to Facebook, emphasizing that the scenes from the video were “not acceptable” and called for the disbandment of neo-fascist organizations.

The leader of the centrist Azione (Action) Party echoed these sentiments, reposting the video on social media and denouncing it as an “unacceptable shame” in a European democracy. The incident has also drawn condemnation from the European Jewish Congress, describing the salute as “absolutely abhorrent” and urging that it be relegated to the darkest chapters of history.

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi faces mounting pressure to take decisive action against neo-fascist groups. However, the controversy extends beyond domestic concerns, as international observers question the stance of the ruling government led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party.

David Broder, a Berlin-based author specializing in Italian politics, notes that while fascist salutes are not uncommon at neofascist commemorations, the difference lies in the fact that the current government is not explicitly condemning such actions. Broder emphasizes that the scenes, although shocking, are routinely tolerated in present-day Italy, especially with the Brothers of Italy in power.

Political analysts argue that the incident poses a significant challenge for Prime Minister Meloni, who has positioned herself as a credible leader on the international stage. The lack of public comment on the video has led to speculation about the government’s stance on far-right ideologies.

Alberto Albertazzi, a political science professor, suggests that this controversy could damage Meloni’s credibility, eroding the international perception she has worked hard to build. The incident raises questions about whether Meloni intends to distance herself from radical elements within her political base.

As the video continues to circulate, it remains unclear whether the individuals involved have been identified or if the police have taken any action. Italian authorities, including Deputy Premier Antoni Tajani, have emphasized their commitment to anti-fascism, condemning rallies in support of dictatorships.

The fallout from this neo-fascist salute is likely to shape Italy’s political discourse, prompting a reassessment of the government’s stance on far-right extremism and its commitment to upholding democratic values.

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