February 29, 2024

Fascist salute – Italy's handling of fascist symbols remains complicated – News

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Italy is currently having intense discussions about fascist symbols. Should the state strictly prohibit this? The impetus for this was the demonstration that took place in Rome about two weeks ago. Hundreds of right-wing extremists raised their weapons in the Romanian fascist salute.

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At the January 7 meeting, hundreds of neo-fascists raised their right arms and gave the fascist salute. This gesture is known in Italy as “Saluto Romano” (Roman salute).

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Now Italy's highest court has commented on this case. Many had hoped that Italy's top justices would provide clarity once and for all. For example, by stipulating that anyone who raises his right arm in the fascist Roman salute will be punished according to applicable laws. But the court did not do this. The ruling of the Court of Cassation in Rome is also more nuanced and complex.

The court leaves room for interpretation

It always depends on the context in which this greeting is made. This means that each individual case must be carefully studied. It is a criminal offense for people to raise their arms in the Roman salute with the intention of organizing themselves permanently and founding a new fascist party. But anyone who said a Roman salute and then returned home had nothing to fear. This is in contrast to other countries, such as Germany, which have stricter laws.

The Court of Cassation in Rome said: Italy's democracy is strong and knows how to differentiate. But it may take years for it to be clear on a case-by-case basis whether the Roman greeting, which often lasts only a few seconds, was legal or illegal. Because the line between legal and illegal remains fluid in this matter. Italy's judicial system includes three cases whose courts are chronically overburdened.

It will not be known for a long time whether these right-wing extremists who raised their arms in the Roman salute in Rome nearly two weeks ago and caused protests in Italy and internationally have broken the law.

Franco Patel

Franco Patel

Italy correspondent


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Franco Patel is the Italian correspondent of SRF Radio again since 2024. Previously he was foreign editor. Patel reported from Rome as Italy and Vatican correspondent from 2015 to 2021. Previously, he was responsible for Mexico, Central America, Cuba and Liechtenstein as foreign editor.

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