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Revival of extreme right-wing group conjures fears of neo-fascism in Italy

ROME, Sept. 22 (JTA) – The announcement by an extreme right-wing leader here that he will revive his illegal hate group next month has renewed concerns about public displays of neo-Nazi sentiments. Maurizio Boccacci, Rome’s most prominent ultraright-wing leader, told La Repubblica newspaper that he plans to relaunch his Movimento Politico on Oct. 28, despite a government ban on its operation. The Political Movement was banned and broken up in 1993 for its anti-Semitic and xenophobic activities. Boccacci, 42, has been investigated more than 50 times for hate activities and militant neo-fascism. He described himself to La Repubblica as “fascist, Catholic traditionalist, anti-Zionist, racist.” Boccacci’s announcement came amid mounting concern about neo-Nazi and fascist behavior among Italian soccer fans. As in some other European countries, some militant fans, including skinhead groups, use fascist and Nazi symbols to support their teams and sometimes use anti-Semitic slogans against opposing teams. Frequent protests by Jewish and other groups have had little effect on these practices. Rome Municipal Council member Enzo Foschi last week warned that groups of skinhead fans, waving swastika banners and other symbols, were turning sections of Rome stadiums into “a megaphone for the xenophobic and racist extreme right” and were driving out other fans. He criticized the authorities for not taking action. “The swastikas that everyone has seen in recent months should make everyone understand that a very dangerous fire has been igniting under the ashes,” he warned. “Laxity and permissiveness – or complicity – by those who should have been preventing and repressing these signals is the prime cause of this situation,” he said. Another member of the Rome city government warned that a full-scale reorganization of an ultraright-wing movement may be taking place in the capital. “For months such groups have been trying to raise their heads,” said Nunzio D’Erme of the Communist Refoundation Party.