The extreme-right Forza Nuova party has called for a march on October 28th – the 95th anniversary of Mussolini's own March on Rome, a mass demonstration which resulted in the National Fascist Party taking power in Italy.
In posts across social media, the party announced its “March of Patriots”, which it said was organized with the aim of protesting “against an illegitimate government, to say definitively no to Ius Soli [a controversial proposal for a law which would give Italian-born children of migrants Italian citizenship if they fulfilled certain conditions], and to stop violence and rapes by the immigrants who have mobbed our country”.
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It called for donations from “fellow patriots” in order to fund the trucks, petrol, banners and flags needed for such an event.
Though the advertising material did not make any reference to Fascism or the significance of the date, Italy's left-wing politicians called out the xenophobic message and accused the party's leadership of defence of fascism, which is illegal in Italy.
A group of 45 parliamentarians from the ruling centre-left Democratic Party wrote to Interior Minister Marco Minniti asking him to cancel the march.
“What urgent actions does the ministry intend to take to prevent this event from happening?” their note to Minniti read. “It's a so-called 'march of patriots', which calls on 'comrades' from every part of Italy to unite and march on Rome 'against the law on ius soli', which risks being transformed into a tragic day for our country”.
The criticism was echoed by other left-wing parties, with MPs pointing out that allowing an event which celebrated fascism would be anti-constitutional. Meanwhile, Rome police said they had not received any formal notice of plans for the event.
On Wednesday, Rome's Five Star Movement mayor Virginia Raggi joined the calls to cancel the march, writing on Twitter: “The March on Rome cannot and must not be repeated.” Meanwhile, the president of the Lazio region called the event “an insult and a farce”.
Forza Nuova's leader, Roberto Fiore, has denied any “fascist or nostalgic” element to the march, and called it a “walk for security”.
The party was recently criticized for sharing a racist poster on its social media channels. The image, shared on August 30th, showed a black man tearing off a white woman's blouse, with the slogan 'Defend her from the new invaders. It could be your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter'.
According to Italian media, the poster was based on work by Gino Boccasile, a propaganda artist for Mussolini's Fascist regime.
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Following the reports of a gang-rape in the northern seaside town of Rimini, Fiore took to Facebook to write: “Forza Nuova is committed to making life impossible for all those rapists and immigrants who, for religious beliefs, for incivility or arrogance, believe a European woman is prey.”
In an eight-point manifesto on its website, Forza Nuova says its aims include a block on immigration as well as other conservative policies such as making abortion illegal and promoting marriage, multiple childbirth and women's work in the home.
In 2013, Milan's mayor banned a three-day festival organized by the party, saying he would use “all legal measures to stop it from happening”, while some MPs have called for Forza Nuova to be banned outright.