What do Italian neo-fascists, Serbian right wing and Kosovo have in common?

The Italian right-wing party, Forza Nuova, whose leaders are in jail after last month’s riots in Rome, still exists even though its dissolution was voted by the Italian parliament. A month after the Italian parliament voted to disband the neo-fascist organisation whose leaders were arrested in mid-October for riots during anti-vaccination protests in Rome, the right-wing party Forza Nuova is still alive.

On 20 and 21 October, the Italian Senate and the Chamber of Deputies adopted an initiative to ban the work of the party whose leaders are considered responsible for the attack on the CGIL headquarters on 9 October, when demonstrations against the introduction of the mandatory green pass for all workers resulted in riots and clashes with the police ensued. However, the MEPs’ request is not binding on the Italian authorities, who, according to local media reports, are still thinking about how to solve this problem.

By law, neo-fascist groups can only be banned after a court has ruled that their actions were part of an effort to revive the old fascist party that ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943. At the same time, the government is allowed by decree to ban organisations it deems a serious threat to democracy and constitutional freedoms.

Founded in 1997, Forza Nuova inherits the legacy of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and is today one of the most prominent far-right parties in Italy, repeatedly accused of attacks on immigrants and clashes with the police. It has never crossed the parliamentary threshold in Italy, and at the last elections, together with the Fiamma Tricolore movement, it won 0.5% of the votes in the Senate and 0.39 in the Chamber of Deputies. Despite negligible electoral results, due to nationalist rhetoric and radical attitudes, their presence and visibility in public opinion has increased.

“More than the increase in the number [of votes], there has been an increase in visibility. This growth goes hand in hand with the general growth of the right-wing organizations in Italy. Defining oneself as a fascist is no longer a scandal,” said Guido Caldiron, author of the book “Extreme Right”.

After the October riots, it seems that the government and the Ministry of the Interior are waiting for the outcome of the court case before taking steps to possibly ban the party, according to the newspaper ‘Domani’. Until then, Forza Nuova president Roberto Fiore and his first collaborator Giuliano Castellino are awaiting trial in prison along with ten other inmates.

Both are known to the police and the judiciary from before; Fiore (age 62) has been in conflict with the authorities for decades because of militant political principles while Castellino (age 44) is one of Roma’s top ultras, frequently featured in crime reports, and in 2019, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for injuring two municipal wardens and a police officer, while preventing a squatter from leaving the flat legally given to an Eritrean family. On leaving the courtroom, he saluted with the famous fascist ‘Roman’ salute.

And while the legislative and executive authorities in Italy weigh their next steps, the media often report about Forza Nuova. The Domani daily reports that, a few days before the violence directed at CGIL, Fiore was in Belgrade at a conference with other European neo-fascists. On that occasion, he praised similar attack on the Serbian parliament and reiterated ‘support for Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo’. In a text entitled ‘All roads of neo-fascists lead to Kosovo’, the Domani writes in detail about the connection between Forza Nuova and its leader Fiore and the Serbian right-wing movement, founded by controversial politician Miša Vacić.

“We fought against the lockdown, we fought against the health tyranny. (…) We have to respect the sacrifice and the work of the Serbian people and people like Miša, who went in front of the parliament to say clearly that the epidemiological tyranny has to end, otherwise, a revolution will break out,” Fiore said at the conference, which was held under the auspices of the Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF) in Belgrade’s Moskva Hotel on 26 September, and brought together the extreme right from all over Europe.

The Domani daily specifies that the protests in Serbia, mentioned by Fiore, were in fact motivated by the intention to introduce new measures against COVID-19, but that, above all, they were a reaction to the growing authoritarianism of President Aleksandar Vučić; furthermore, “it is not true that Vacić’s party took part in the protests”, the newspaper states.

The Domani also says that during the September conference it was agreed to hold a similar meeting in northern Kosovo in November, as a sign of the European right’s support for Serbs in the province. But since Fiore, who is also president of the APF, has meanwhile ended up in jail, the question is what will happen with this initiative.

“The [Serbian] nationalism on the Kosovo issue embodies the myth of a nation and the sacrifice of the territory occupied by the army of the Islamic faith; it underlines the victimization of the people, first by NATO and then by EU diplomacy, and idealizes Serbia as a state that defends its territorial sovereignty by posing as a defender of European Christianity. This ideological mixture, of course, can only inspire admiration in the [far-right] political spectrum, which has been complaining for years about phantom projects of ethnic migration, subservience to international institutions and destruction of European Christian roots,” writes the Domani and analyses the political situation in northern Kosovo, focusing on the role of the extreme right. It states that northern Kosovo is trying to present itself as ‘the last bastion that resists Islamic invasion and occupation’.

La Repubblica, on the other hand, carries the story of how Forza Nuova used the coronavirus pandemic and various anti-vaxx movements to propagate its existence and expand its base. The Roman daily brings to light documents and correspondence on closed internet forums which confirm how Forza Nuova has been planning anti-government demonstrations for a year and a half, using the pandemic measures as a pretext.

“Fiore and Castellino understood before others that strict government measures would provoke a fragmented and heterogeneous movement of disappointed people. They used familiar methods borrowed from terrorist groups in the past – hiding behind seemingly apolitical acronyms, infiltrating closed groups, inciting hatred and arousing extreme passions, calling for street fights, even, as a correspondence on Telegram shows, giving instructions on how to make weapons with the help of a 3D printer,” writes La Repubblica.

Castellino organised street demonstrations in Rome on 12 April last year, during the first wave of the pandemic, against the compulsory home quarantine which the Italian government ordered for all citizens. It seemed trivial, but in fact it was only the beginning. On 10 October 2020, in the hall of the Hotel Parco del Tirreno in Rome, they formed the ‘Popular Liberation Government’ and denounced that ‘parliament must be dissolved, the Supreme Court dismissed and the powers of the prosecutors revoked.’

Nothing that has happened in recent years and after violent protests, peaceful sessions or processions in Italian cities are accidental, says La Repubblica. The Forza Nuova leadership has taken advantage of the dissatisfaction that hovers over first the lockdown, then vaccines and now the compulsory green pass.

(Al Jazeera Balkans, 21.11.2021)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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