ROME (JTA) — Protesters chanted anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian slogans outside the main Rome synagogue during mass student protests that turned violent.
Tens of thousands of people in dozens of Italian cities reportedly took part in strikes and demonstrations Wednesday protesting the economic situation and other issues.
In Rome, thousands of high school and university students staged marches through the city center, blocking traffic. Police chased some marchers into the old Jewish Quarter, according to reports.
Rome Jewish community President Riccardo Pacifici said that some of the demonstrators waved Palestinian flags while hooting and shouting anti-Jewish slogans outside the Great Synagogue of Rome.
"It has been 30 years since a demonstration passed in front of the synagogue," Pacifici said. "Who authorized it?"
The newspaper La Repubblica reported that in clashes outside the synagogue with police, some demonstrators hurled stone vases that were standing in front of the building.
The synagogue has been closely guarded, with police cars sitting on the street outside, since a Palestinian terror attack in 1982 that killed a toddler and left scores injured. Dozens of police were stationed outside the synagogue during Wednesday’s demonstrations.
A student representative told La Repubblica that the police guards had added to the tension. He said some protesters had probably shouted pro-Palestinian slogans, but he denied media reports that the demonstrators had shouted "Saddam, Saddam," referring to the Iraqi leader captured by U.S. forces in 2003 and later executed.