ROME (JTA) – Italian Jews are threatening to stage a counter rally against a far-right nationalist who announced a recruitment rally next month for a paramilitary-style vigilante group.
Rome Jewish community president Riccardo Pacifici joined political leaders in condemning Gaetano Saya’s weekend announcement of a recruitment rally Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 in Genoa for a "homeland defense legion."
Meanwhile, Italy’s minister of equal opportunity opened an investigation into Saya’s declarations against gays, immigrants and Roma, or Gypsies.
Pacifici called on Italy’s interior minister and local authorities to take action against Saya’s planned rally, threatening a counter-protest if it wasn’t blocked. If nothing is done, he said in a statement, "We Jews will make our voices heard by promoting, on the same day and in the same place, a demonstration against this xenophobic and racist initiative."
Two years ago, Saya sparked outrage when his Italian Nationalist Party, a neo-fascist movement modeled on Britain’s National Front, launched a paramilitary group. It came under immediate investigation for promoting fascism, which is illegal in Italy. A Nationalist party video that is still online shows Saya and other members giving the stiff-armed fascist salute and wearing uniforms reminiscent of those from pre-World War II fascist militias.