Four young boys from Milan’s elite were planning to attack a local, Muslim activist. They are the modern neofascists in Italy.
“We have to do this no matter what because he is a Muslim piece of shit who shouldn’t even be in our country,” one of them said during an intercepted phone call, “make sure you don’t use any nasty words that can trace back to racism. Obviously, it will be a racial attack, but don’t say ‘you black piece of shit you die’.” So, do carry out our racial attack, but make sure people and investigators don’t know it’s racial. Perhaps make it look random.
However, the police stopped them before anything happened. Investigators were tracing these four men known to be members of a neo-nazi group. They wanted to create a new world order based both on nazism and fascism, on discrimination and racist violence. While Italy doesn’t have a law against racist discrimination, it does have a law against any type of propaganda, even the online one.
The path of the law
The legal term is “apology,” which means publicly exalting or defending these racist doctrines. This law (called Scelba) dates back to 1952 when Italy was recovering from the decades of Mussolini’s dictatorship. In this specific case, Italian law also punishes any form of propaganda, not just public speeches. It also prohibits the reorganization of the fascist party and any behaviors that exalt it.
In 1993, a new law specified the crime of “apology” even more. To the list of crimes, the Mancino law adds hate speech, any incitement to commit discriminatory acts based on ethnicity, religion, and nationality. In 2017, the politician Emanuele Fiano tried to take this crime further. His proposal sanctioned any use, sales, and sharing of any content of both the fascist and nazi party. So, if this law had passed, the Roman salute or any use of the swastika would be outlawed. Even online.
But, when Fiano’s legislature ended, so did this debate. Except, citizens are trying to revamp the discussions, both in bars and in the Parliament.
Unfortunately, in Italy Fascism is more alive than ever
The proposal comes from the town of Stazzema, nestled in the Tuscan Apennines. There, on August, 12th, 1944, nazists killed 560 people just for the sake of doing it. They never forgot. That’s why locals launched the project “Antifascist law Stazzema,” asking Italians to sign to take this proposal to the Parliament for voting against neofascists in Italy.
“We’ve been witnessing for years the proliferation of fascist and nazist symbols and we aren’t doing anything,” the citizens of Stazzema wrote, “this has happened because we’ve been underestimating the return of these dangerous ideologies.” In fact, over 15% of people don’t believe the holocaust ever existed and almost 20% of Italians believe that Mussolini was a great leader who made a few mistakes.
The “Antifascist law Stazzema” proposes to bring back the debate on Fiano’s law, punishing any form of propaganda, sale of content, and the sharing of hateful messages and speeches. Once the proposal reaches 50,000 popular signatures, it can be presented to the Parliament for debate and voting.
“Unfortunately, in Italy fascism is more alive than ever,” said the President of Anpi Carlo Susara to Repubblica, “we find it everywhere, from bars to books, from tattoos to stadiums. This is our chance to take the figure of Mussolini down.”
Indeed, fascism is more alive than ever. The four men from Milan had a statute, rules, battle names, and a strict hierarchy. They had weapons and enough hate to be dangerous. Also, they had a dress code.
The dress code of the neofascists in Italy
Giuliano Castellino is the leader of the Area group, a Roman neofascist organization. On the website, he published a dress code for the modern neofascist. They wear a button-down shirt, a baseball hat, a military jacket, combat-style pants, and sneakers. In this style guide, Castellino even lists specific brands, such as Adidas and Burberry. They aren’t shaved, they don’t evade the gaze, and they aren’t feminine. Modern neo-fascists are supposed to be real men, after all.
Like the members of the organization Ultima Legione who shared these ideologies, recruiting more people, and talking about getting weapons for themselves. It was a true political group that looked up to Fascism. The police managed to stop them before their plans went further. They are accused of pursuing the anti-democratic aims of the fascist party, instigating the use of violence as a political means, and the sharing of online content that incites hate and discrimination. This time, they were stopped. But what about next time?
So, the fascist and nazi organizations are truly alive and thriving in Italy. They plan attacks, have style guides, and they say whatever they want online. Without a law against any type of discrimination, their acts will go unpunished. Like the aggressions against the Italian LGBTQ community.