Italy parliament votes to outlaw fascist symbols

Italy's parliament votes to outlaw fascist symbols, Roman salute

Amid rising far-right activity, the draft law has been hailed by the ruling Democratic Party as a "brake on neo-fascist regurgitation." But two of Italy's largest parties say that it threatens free speech.

Italy's parliament late Tuesday backed legislation that aims to curb fascist propaganda, more than 70 years after the death of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

The draft law threatens to outlaw the stiff-armed Roman salute and the distribution of fascist or Nazi symbols and propaganda, including on the internet, with proposed prison sentences ranging from six months to nearly three years.

Read more: German-speaking Italy and the legacy of fascism

The legislation is set to head to the Senate. However, it is unlikely that the upper house will vote on the draft law due to a busy legislative agenda before the legislature is dissolved in 2018.

World | 09.11.2013

Populists fight back

The legislation has met resistance from ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia (Forward Italy) party and the populist Five Star Movement (M5S).

M5S said the anti-fascist legislation threatened freedom of speech in Italy, adding that it would have been better to tighten existing laws which center around re-founding the Fascist party.

Read more: Italy's extreme right on the rise

But Emanuele Fiano, a lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Party (PD), dismissed the criticism, saying draft law will quash unbridled hate speech and rising racism.

"This bill does not attack personal freedoms, but will act as a brake on neo-fascist regurgitation and a return of extreme right-wing ideology," said Fiano.

'March of patriots'

Over the past four years, Italy has witnessed a resurgence of far-right activity, including growing support for the neo-fascist party Forza Nuova (New Force), in tandem with a wave of migrants reaching Italian shores from North Africa.

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Forza Nuova has called for a "march of patriots" in Rome to coincide with the 95th anniversary of armed fascist militias entering the capital that led the government to resign and instate Mussolini as premier.

Italien | Alessandra Mussolini (PDL) gibt Autogramme auf Fotos ihrers Großvaters Benito Mussolini

Alessandra Mussolini, the grand-daughter of the late dictator Benito Mussolini, has signed photographs of her grandfather and handed them out to neo-fascist supporters

Read more: Italian politics in search of the father figure

Many Italian citizens are "dismayed" by the rally celebrating Mussolini gaining power, with Carlo Smuraglia, who heads the Italian partisans' association, ANPI, calling for the interior ministry to ban the march.

"The idea that a neo-fascist party can organize such an event on the anniversary of a tragic event – the march that started the fascist regime – is very serious and unacceptable," said Smuraglia.

Mussolini led Italy into World War II as an ally of Nazi Germany. He was later deposed during the allied invasion of Italy in 1943 and executed in 1945.


Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945)

As Hitler's Propaganda Minister, the virulently anti-Semitic Goebbels was responsible for making sure a single, iron-clad Nazi message reached every citizen of the Third Reich. He strangled freedom of the press, controlled all media, arts, and information, and pushed Hitler to declare "Total War." He and his wife committed suicide in 1945, after poisoning their six children.


Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)

The leader of the German National Socialist Workers' Party (Nazi) developed his anti-Semitic, anti-communist and racist ideology well before coming to power as Chancellor in 1933. He undermined political institutions to transform Germany into a totalitarian state. From 1939 to 1945, he led Germany in World War II while overseeing the Holocaust. He committed suicide in April 1945.


Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945)

As leader of the Nazi paramilitary SS ("Schutzstaffel"), Himmler was one of the Nazi party members most directly responsible for the Holocaust. He also served as Chief of Police and Minister of the Interior, thereby controlling all of the Third Reich's security forces. He oversaw the construction and operations of all extermination camps, in which more than 6 million Jews were murdered.


Rudolf Hess (1894-1987)

Hess joined the Nazi party in 1920 and took part in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, a failed Nazi attempt to gain power. While in prison, he helped Hitler write "Mein Kampf." Hess flew to Scotland in 1941 to attempt a peace negotiation, where he was arrested and held until the war's end. In 1946, he stood trial in Nuremberg and was sentenced to life in prison, where he died.


Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962)

Alongside Himmler, Eichmann was one of the chief organizers of the Holocaust. As an SS Lieutenant colonel, he managed the mass deportations of Jews to Nazi extermination camps in Eastern Europe. After Germany's defeat, Eichmann fled to Austria and then to Argentina, where he was captured by the Israeli Mossad in 1960. Tried and found guilty of crimes against humanity, he was executed in 1962.


Hermann Göring (1893-1946)

A participant in the failed Beer Hall Putsch, Göring became the second-most powerful man in Germany once the Nazis took power. He founded the Gestapo, the Secret State Police, and served as Luftwaffe commander until just before the war's end, though he increasingly lost favor with Hitler. Göring was sentenced to death at Nuremberg but committed suicide the night before it was enacted.

ls/kms (Reuters, dpa)

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