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  • People look at healthcare personnel taking care of an injured person after being shot by gunfire from a vehicle, in Macerata, Italy, February 3, 2018.

    People look at healthcare personnel taking care of an injured person after being shot by gunfire from a vehicle, in Macerata, Italy, February 3, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 February 2018

The populist rhetoric draws from the wave of immigrants seeking shelter in Italy.

Last Saturday, a white nationalist Italian drove his car around the city of Macerata while shooting at people of African origin. Six people were injured, but fortunately, nobody died. The attacker, 28-year-old Luca Traini, was a local candidate for the anti-immigrant party Northern League (Lega Nord).

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According to Italian authorities, Traini seemed “lucid and determined, aware of what he had done,” showing no remorse. He has a Nazi tattoo on his forehead and the police seized Hitler's Mein Kampf and a Celtic cross flag from him when searching his house. During his two-hour-long shooting rampage, he also attacked the local office of the Democratic Party.

Reports say Triani was also affiliated with other far-right parties and associations, such as New Force (Forza Nuova) and CasaPound, which have been gaining popularity in the recent years, especially for its anti-immigration stance. Now, Forza Nuova is providing him with legal aid.

Right-wing parties are making gains across Europe thanks to their populist, nationalist rhetoric, fueled by the refugee crisis. In Germany, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the Bundestag as the third biggest party in 2017, also under an anti-immigration platform. In France, the National Front keeps gaining popularity, even though they try to distance themselves from the Nazi imagery, given their occupation history.

Last Saturday's attack was intended as revenge for the murder of 18-year-old Italian Pamela Mastropietro by a Nigerian national.

This rhetoric has proven effective across Europe. Matteo Salvini, head of the Lega Nord party, has used Mastropietro's murder during his campaign, blaming the government for her death for “filling [Italy] with illegal immigrants.” He has promised to deport 100,000 migrants during his first year in office if his party wins a majority in the parliament on next March 4 general elections.

His party, along with Berlusconi's party Forza Italia, also blocked a law that would punish the Roman fascist salute or selling fascist souvenirs with two years in prison. They are also aligned with other far-right parties in Europe, such as Le Pen's National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and the Freedom Party of Austria.

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Last year, the party Forza Nuova called for a protest on October 28, the 95th anniversary of the rise of Mussolini, facing opposition from the Democratic Party, which had the parliament majority.

Now, Forza Nuova Facebook page has 20,000 more followers than the Democratic Party one. CasaPound, which considers itself the heir of Mussolini's Italian Fascist Party, is growing as popular as Forza Nuova. Last year, one of CasaPound's candidates won a seat for the municipal council of Ostia, a Roman suburb.

“The other parties aimed at promoting their candidates, while we aim for the promotion of our ideas.” Adriano Da Pozzo, a Forza Nuova leader, told the Guardian.

 


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