In the middle of 2023, hundreds of people in military formation in the Tuscolano neighborhood, the first suburb of Rome, extended their arms during a tribute and gave the Roman salute chanting a triple “Present!” Exactly the same as it could have happened 100 years ago. Like every year, a tribute was held to the young people of the Italian Social Movement (MSI) murdered in 1978 at the former headquarters of the far-right party.

The event took place on Sunday night, January 7. The next day, when videos and photos appeared on social networks, controversy broke out over the way in which the militants paid tribute to the three young people. The vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, Sergio Costa (of the 5 Star Movement) has announced that he is going to file a complaint with the Rome Prosecutor’s Office to find out if crimes, including the apology of fascism, have been committed during the commemoration. The leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), Elly Schein, has been very explicit in her condemnation: “If you shout ‘Long live Italy anti-fascist’ they identify you, if you go to a neo-fascist rally with Roman salutes and banners, no. Meloni He has nothing to say?” It is “an unacceptable shame”, she has stressed.

Late this Monday morning, the secretary of Forza Italia and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, tried to tone down the controversy: “We are a force that is certainly not fascist, we are anti-fascist,” said Tajani. . “Those who have behaved like this must certainly be condemned by everyone, as must all manifestations of support for dictatorships. There is a law; you cannot advocate fascism in our country,” he added.

In the videos released, you can see that the presenter draws the attention of the crowd and then, three times, shouting “For all the fallen comrades”, the chorus response is “Present!” This quasi-military formation and the subsequent Roman salutes, which can be seen in many videos on social networks, have impacted Italian society and have not stopped provoking reactions.

Among them, that of Marta Bonafoni, regional councilor of the Democratic Party (PD) and knowledgeable about the municipality where the commemoration was held. Posting the video on X, she commented: “For us in the neighborhood, every year January 7th brings with it a good dose of anxiety.” “We always advise our children: If you go out, take a long walk. Don’t pass by there. The commemoration of the deceased in Acca Larentia always goes like this: it has the black color of an evoked violence that cannot be overcome or extinguished. There are years in which it turns out even worse, and this seems to me to be one of them. With the national and regional governments that have turned to the right in an important way, with the vice president of the Chamber writing “We won for you”, he wrote.

“Can the institutions ignore the black heart that beats for a few hours in that square of streets a few hours after the speeches and the flower crowns? The answer is no, they cannot. It is our Constitution that says so,” he said. concluded Bonafoni.

In the morning an institutional ceremony of remembrance and tribute had been held. The president of the Lazio region, Francesco Rocca, and the Councilor for Culture of the City Council of Rome, Miguel Gotor, attended, placing a laurel wreath at the place where the two militants of the Fronte della Giovent├╣ of the MSI were murdered. Also present were, among others, the regional vice president, Roberta Angelilli, the vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, Fabio Rampelli, and the senator from Forza Italia. It was late in the afternoon when the other commemoration, that of the militants, took place.

“The Government must intervene immediately,” argued Michela Di Biase, PD deputy. “Rome cannot be held hostage by neo-fascist militants. These images damage the image of the Italian capital in the world. All institutions are called to speak out: the apology of fascism is a crime!”, she asserted.

The leader of Azione, Carlo Calenda, has also intervened: “It is an unacceptable shame in a European democracy.” Nicola Zingaretti, former president of the PD in Lazio, has written: “It is not about humanly pity for the dead, nor about condemning the political violence of yesterday and today. Of course without distinction of political color. But the Roman salute performed with occasion of the memory of Acca Larentia, is in itself a symbol of death, violence and oppression. That is why it must be condemned first of all by the political forces. All of them. Those who do not do so are accomplices.” On network