A group of far-right activists attacked Italy’s La Repubblica newsroom with smoke bombs on Wednesday (6 December), in the latest of a series of violent episodes by neo-fascist groups who say they are waging “a political war”.
The activists, belonging to Italy’s Forza Nuova neofascist party, wore face masks and carried a banner reading “Boycott La Repubblica and L’Espresso”.
They threw smoke-bombs at the building and at two journalists and read a declaration saying “this is the first act of political war against the newspaper and the PD [Italy’s governing party] who are leading a discrediting campaign criminalising Forza Nuova.”
The blitz follows an investigation by Italy’s second most read newspaper into the finances of Forza Nuova and CasaPound, Italy’s largest far-right parties, tracing their wealth to the British far-right, Putin’s Russia, and the French Front National.
Today a bunch of neo-Fascists attacked our @repubblica newsroom in Rome with smoke-bombs and threatned us all as journalists after our articles about the rise of far-right in Italy. Please share to defend journalism and freedom against new fascisms.https://t.co/y4Ynn1moKC pic.twitter.com/QgmTcMrxB0
— Antonello Guerrera (@antoguerrera) December 6, 2017
Eight suspects, identified thanks to CCTV recordings, are now under investigation.
This is not an isolated incident: last month a group of skinheads interrupted a private meeting of a migrant support network in Como, northern Italy. Following a similar script, they read a declaration to “stop the invasion” of migrants.
The police raided their homes and sequestered laptops and mobile phones to find out who led the attack.
Earlier in November, a mafia boss in Rome’s periphery head-butted a journalist who had asked him about his connections to CasaPound, a party that won 9% of the vote in the local election.
Justice Minister Andrea Orlando told Italian media: “I believe there are elements of concern, which we are considering. I believe we must implement repressive measures on behalf of the state as well as advance social and political initiatives”.
Piero Grasso, the president of the Italian upper chamber and a candidate in the 2018 elections at the helm of a left-wing party that broke off from the PD, spoke of a “rising black wave”.
Italy will hold parliamentary elections next spring. Under the new electoral law, the threshold for small parties to gain representation in parliament has been lowered to 3% (formerly, it was 5%).
Far-right groups saw this as an opportunity and have started campaigning. Simone Di Stefano, CasaPound’s candidate, proudly calls himself a fascist and has publicly praised fascism’s legacy.
Italian law forbids the creation of a fascist party (even if it’s not named as such), and since 1952 it’s been a crime to be an apologist for those years.
However, Di Stefano also criticised Forza Nuova’s blitz on La Repubblica’s offices as “wrong and inappropriate,” he told Italian media.
His appearances on public television debates have been criticised for “normalising” neo-fascism, and for offering a public platform to an openly fascist and racist movement.
The governing PD is organising an anti-fascist rally in Como on Saturday (9 September), where party secretary and former premier Matteo Renzi will deliver a speech.