Clashes erupt in Rome amid anger over COVID’s ‘green pass’ | Coronavirus pandemic News
Thousands of protesters, including members of far-right groups, demonstrated in the Italian capital against the extension of the COVID-19 health card system.
Protesters marched through Rome city center on Saturday to oppose a government-validated certificate system known as the “green pass,” which has been made mandatory for all workers.
Many raised their fists or waved Italian flags, shouting “Freedom! “And holding up banners that read” Take your hands off [our] job.”
Italian media reported 10,000 participants, while organizers said there were 100,000. Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures.
At least one person was injured when an unauthorized march broke away from the main rally in Piazza Del Popolo in central Rome and attempted to reach Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office.
Police in riot gear blocked the protesters by forming a line and spraying water on the protesters.
“Roman” fascist hello
Videos posted on social media showed rioters, some of whom covered their faces, throwing objects at police officers and damaging armored vans.
Among them were supporters of the far-right group Forza Nuova, which waved the Italian flag and extended its arm in a “Roman” fascist salute.
The crowd reached the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL), Italy’s oldest trade union organization, and briefly broke into its premises.
CGIL on Sunday called for an emergency general assembly to decide how to respond to the act, which was blamed on “fascist action squads.”
“[This was] an attack on democracy and on the world of work that we are determined to reject, ”Maurizio Landini, CGIL secretary general, said in a statement. “No one should think they can take our country back to the fascist years.”
Prime Minister Draghi called on Landini to express “the government’s full solidarity with the assault that took place today in Rome,” Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported.
“Trade unions are a fundamental bastion of democracy and workers’ rights. Whatever intimidation they face, it must be resisted with absolute firmness, ”Draghi said in a statement.
In September, Italy became the first country in Europe to make the “green pass” compulsory in public and private workplaces from October 15.
To get one, employees must either have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, document their recovery from illness in the past six months, or have tested negative for the virus within the previous 48 hours.
Employees and employers face fines if they fail to comply. Public sector workers can be suspended if they show up five times without a “green pass”.
A protester who identified himself as Cosimo told AFP news agency that he and his wife Morena, who work as nurses, refused to comply due to immunity issues and allergies.
Although exempt from compulsory vaccination by their family doctor, “we were both suspended two months ago,” Cosimo said.
Stefano, who came from Como in the north to join Saturday’s protest, said he would take the test. “I have to pay to work, it’s absurd,” he said.
During the summer, the certificate was already required in Italy to enter museums, theaters, gymnasiums and indoor restaurants, as well as to take long-distance trains and buses or domestic flights.
Tens of thousands of people in several countries, including Italy, France and the UK, have protested the anti-COVID measures, which they see as an illegal limitation on civil liberties.