ROME (JTA) – Jewish souvenir vendors, some wearing yellow Stars of David pinned to their clothing, staged a protest against recent edicts barring street vendors from operating near the Vatican.
About 100 mainly Jewish vendors, known as urtisti, gathered in front of the Vatican on Thursday bearing signs with slogans such as “History is repeating itself” and “Pope Francis – Roman Jews ask help for the right to work,” according to local media reports.
Souvenir vending is a tradition among some Roman Jewish families going back to the 19th century, when a papal edict allowed Jews to sell rosaries to Catholic pilgrims.
The protest was the latest by urtisti against recent city rulings limiting the activities of various types of street vendors at major tourist sites.
A spokesman for the protesters told the ADNKronos news agency that the protesters donned yellow Stars of David, similar to those the Nazis required Jews to wear, “because the latest measures taken by the city seem to be aimed at Jews.”
In the latest ruling, citing reasons of order and security, Rome police issued an ordinance barring souvenir sellers and other street vendors from selling their wares near the Vatican during the Roman Catholic Church’s Jubilee, or Holy, year, which begins Dec. 8 and will end Nov. 16, 2016. Their activities will be relocated to other designated spaces farther from St. Peter’s Square.
The latest ordinance follows other recent bans or limitations placed on street vendors at other tourist sites in the city. Last week, for example, authorities barred the “centurions,” or men who dress up as ancient Roman soldiers and pose for pictures with tourists, from the Colosseum and other sites.