Fascist rally in Rome sparks Italian opposition outrage

ROME (Reuters) – Italian opposition parties called on Monday for the dissolution of extreme-right parties after a video was released showing hundreds of men making fascist salutes during a rally in Rome.

The rally was held on Sunday in front of the former headquarters of the MSI group – a neo-fascist party that eventually morphed into the conservative Brothers of Italy, which was co-founded by Giorgia Meloni, now the prime minister.

The event marked the 46th anniversary of the killing of three neo-fascists in Via Acca Larentia, in southeast Rome.

Two of the men were gunned down by suspected far-left militants while the third was killed by police after a riot broke out shortly after the shooting. No one was ever convicted over the deaths.

In the video, lines of men can be seen making stiff-armed salutes and shouting “present” three times as one of their number yelled “For all fallen comrades!” – a typical rallying cry at neo-fascist events.

“This is an unacceptable disgrace in a European democracy,” said Carlo Calenda, head of the centrist Action party.

Commemorations for the Acca Larentia killings take place each year, but opposition parties said such displays of pro-fascist sentiment were outlawed and demanded an investigation.

“It looks like 1924,” said Democratic Party leader Elly Schlein, referring to the year fascist leader Benito Mussolini scored a resounding election victory prior to shutting down multi-party politics in Italy.

“What happened is unacceptable. Neo-fascist groups must be disbanded, as the constitution spells out,” she added.

Italy’s post-war constitution forbids the reorganisation of Mussolini’s dissolved Fascist party, but extreme right groups have sidestepped the problem by giving their organisations new names and claiming to be new entities.

Brothers of Italy made no immediate comment about the neo-fascist rally, while Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who leads the more moderate Forza Italia party, said any celebration of dictatorship should be condemned.

“There is a law stating that you cannot make an apology of fascism in our country,” he said.

Meloni praised Mussolini in her youth but has since changed her stance, saying in 2021 that there was “no space” in her party “for nostalgia for fascism, racism or antisemitism.”

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer and Angelo Amante, editing by Alvise Armellini and Mark Heinrich)