Italian far-right group leaders arrested after violent clashes in Rome

Italian police on Sunday arrested 12 members of neo-fascist group Forza Nuova following violent clashes this weekend. Many have called for the organisation to be disbanded.

An Italian protestor squares up to riot police during protests against the 'green pass'.
An Italian protestor squares up to riot police during protests against the 'green pass'. Far-right thugs have been arrested. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Thousands of people gathered to demonstrate against anti-coronavirus measures in central Rome on Saturday, with some protesters later clashing with police.

Members of Forza Nuova took part in the demonstrations before reportedly wrecking premises including the headquarters of the CGIL trade union federation, which the group attacked and occupied.

Police deployed water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds over several hours of unrest, as several hundred people broke away from the main demonstration and attempted to reach minister’s office.

Italian media reported that 38 police officers were injured in the clashes.

A number of photos and videos have emerged of mostly male protestors giving fascist salutes. 

Local media also reported that among 12 people arrested were Roberto Fiore, Forza Nuova’s national secretary, and Giuliano Castellino, the movement’s chief in Rome.

“The people behind the assault on CGIL’s headquarters were quickly arrested. They had been stoking tension and violence for too long,” said MP Federico Fornaro.

READ ALSO: Anti-vax protesters in Rome target PM’s office and trade union headquarters

“Fascist violence must be stopped immediately,” said senator Andrea Marcucci.

Formed in 1997, the neo-fascist party Forza Nuova calls for an abortion ban, a total halt to immigration and the repeal of hate speech laws.

It has never achieved a score of even 0.5 percent at any election, even when allied with other far-right groups.

Mostly centrist and left-leaning politicians have now called for it to be banned.

“We’ve had enough of violence by neo-fascist groups. We will bring an urgent motion before parliament tomorrow calling on the government to dissolve Forza Nuova,” leading Democratic Party (PD) lawmaker Emanuele Fiano said.

A number of other MPs and members of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government back the move.

READ ALSO: Mussolini’s granddaughter tops polls for Rome local election

Speaking outside the union body’s wrecked headquarters, CGIL chief Maurizio Landini called for Forza Nuova to be banned and announced an anti-fascist demonstration for Saturday October 16.

“They can’t intimidate us, they don’t scare us,” he told a crowd gathered to support CGIL after the violence.

Draghi’s office denounced Saturday’s violence in a statement. “The right to express one’s ideas can never degenerate into acts of aggression and intimidation,” it said.

“The Government stands by its commitment to complete the Covid-19 vaccination campaign and thanks the millions of Italians who have already taken part with conviction and a sense of civic duty.” 

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‘I love Italy’: Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

US actor Jason Momoa apologised after fans reacted angrily to him taking snaps in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel despite a strict photography ban.

'I love Italy': Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

Anyone who has visited the Sistine Chapel will recall the firm and repeated warnings from security staff: “no photos, please”.

But there has been an outcry in Italy and beyond after ‘Aquaman’ star Jason Momoa apparently paid to be allowed to disregard this rule on a recent visit to the Vatican City with friends.

Momoa. 42, is currently in Rome shooting ‘Fast X’, the 10th installment in the ‘Fast & Furious’ film saga.

He posted snaps and videos of himself on May 9th posing below the famous frescoes painted by Michelangelo with friends and what appear to be Vatican Museums staff.

But disgruntled fans quickly pointed out in the comments that visitors are typically forbidden from taking photos or videos in the chapel.
“We can’t take pics but celebrities can, nothing against Jason (I adore him) but it’s not fair,” one person wrote.

“All I remember about that place was ‘no photos please’,” another person wrote.

Others took issue with a video showing him reaching over a rope barrier to touch a sculpture. 

“I cringed when he rubbed his hands on the art … not cool, dude,” one person commented.

On Saturday, Momoa posted another video in which he apologised for causing offence.
“If you ever thought I disrespected your culture, that wasn’t my intention,” he said in the video, in which he appears shirtless in the gym apparently following a workout.
He said he had given the chapel “a wonderful donation to bring my friends and crew because we only had a couple days off to go experience these places.”

“I would never want to do anything to disrespect someone’s culture,” he added.

“So if I did, I apologise and it wasn’t my intention. And I definitely paid to have that private moment and gave a nice donation to the church.”

The Sistine Chapel and the rest of the Vatican Museums complex is currently open to visitors as normal, following closures and limitations on visitor numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Regular online tickets cost €17 (around $21) via the official Vatican website. It is also possible to book a two-hour private tour of the Vatican Museums for €78 per person – though the booking website doesn’t mention any exceptions to the photography ban in the Sistine Chapel.