Tens of thousands demonstrate in Rome against neo-fascists

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Demonstrators take part in a march organized by Italy's main labor unions, in Rome's St. John Lateran square, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. The march was called a week after protesters, armed with sticks and metal bars, smashed their way into the headquarters of CGIL, a left-leaning union, and trashed its office, during a demonstration to protest a government rule requiring COVID-19 vaccines or negative tests for workers to enter their offices. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
1 / 9Virus Outbreak Italy ProtestDemonstrators take part in a march organized by Italy’s main labor unions, in Rome’s St. John Lateran square, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. The march was called a week after protesters, armed with sticks and metal bars, smashed their way into the headquarters of CGIL, a left-leaning union, and trashed its office, during a demonstration to protest a government rule requiring COVID-19 vaccines or negative tests for workers to enter their offices. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME (AP) — Tens of thousands of union members and other Italians gathered in Rome to stand up against rising fascism Saturday, a week after right-wing extremists forced their way into the headquarters of Italy's most powerful labor confederation while protesting a COVID-19 certification requirement for workplaces.

The head of the CGIL union confederation, Maurizio Landini, led the protest with other labor leaders under the slogan: “Never again fascism.” Organizers put the crowd assembled in front of St. John Lateran basilica for the protest at 100,000-strong,

Some participants waved flags reading “Si Vax,” a direct retort to the protesters armed with sticks and metal bars who trashed CGIL's Rome headquarters on Oct. 9. They were protesting a government requirement, which took effect Friday, mandating proof of vaccination, a negative test within 48 hours or proof of having recovered from COVID-19 to access places of employment.

Landini, CGIL’s secretary general, has compared the assault on the union headquarters to 1921 attacks by the newly founded Fascist party against union organizers. Fascist leader Benito Mussolini came to power the next year and later brought Italy into World War II as an ally of Nazi Germany.

Landini said Saturday's event was intended as “a demonstration that defends democracy for everyone. This is the topic.’’

The head of the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CISL) trade union, Luigi Sbarra, said an attack against unions led by the far-right Forza Nuova party “made the only choice to be here, united against all types of fascism.” He called for the swift dissolution of the party by Italian authorities.

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