2021-10-09 21:55:11 Clashes break out in Rome amid anger over COVID ‘green pass’ | Coronavirus pandemic News
Clashes break out in Rome amid anger over COVID ‘green pass’ | Coronavirus pandemic News
Thousands of protesters, including members of far-right groups, took to the streets of Rome to oppose the extension of the COVID-19 health pass system.
On Saturday, demonstrators marched through downtown Rome in opposition to a government-validated certificate system known as a “green pass,” which was made mandatory for all workers.
Many people raised their fists or waved Italian flags, yelling “Freedom!” and waving banners that said, “Get your hands off [our] work!”
The Italian media reported 10,000 participants, while organizers claimed 100,000. The figures could not be independently verified by Al Jazeera.
At least one person was injured when an unofficial march broke away from the main rally in Rome’s Piazza Del Popolo and attempted to reach Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office.
Police officers dressed in riot gear formed a line and sprayed water on the demonstrators.
Fascist salute in ‘Roman’
Social media videos showed rioters, some of whom had their faces covered, throwing objects at police officers and damaging armored vans.
Proponents of the extreme right-wing group Forza Nuova were among them, waving the Italian flag and extending their arms in a ‘Roman’ Fascist salute.
The mob made its way to the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), the country’s oldest trade union organization, and briefly entered its premises.
On Sunday, the CGIL called an emergency general assembly to decide how to respond to the act, which was blamed on “fascist action squads.”
“[This was] an attack on democracy and the working world that we are determined to repel,” CGIL Secretary-General Maurizio Landini said in a statement. “No one should believe they can return our country to the Fascist era.”
According to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Prime Minister Draghi called Landini to express “the government’s full solidarity for the assault that occurred today in Rome.”
“Trade unions are a fundamental pillar of democracy and worker rights.” “Whatever intimidation they face must be met with absolute firmness,” said Draghi in a statement.
Italy became the first country in Europe in September to make the “green pass” mandatory in public and private workplaces beginning on October 15.
Employees must have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, documented recovery from illness in the previous six months, or tested negative for the virus in the previous 48 hours in order to obtain one.
Employees and employers are both subject to fines if they do not comply. Employees in the public sector may be fired if they fail to show up for work five times in a row without a “green pass.”
One protester, identified as Cosimo, told the AFP news agency that he and his wife Morena, both nurses, had refused to comply due to immune and allergy issues.
Despite their family doctor exempting them from the vaccination requirement, “we were both suspended two months ago,” Cosimo explained.
Stefano, who traveled from Como in the north to join the protest on Saturday, said he would take the test. “It’s absurd that I have to pay to work,” he said.
During the summer, the certificate was already required in Italy to enter museums, theaters, gyms, and indoor restaurants, as well as to board long-distance trains and buses or to fly domestically.
Tens of thousands of people in several countries, including Italy, France, and the United Kingdom, have protested anti-COVID measures, which they see as an unconstitutional restriction on civil liberties.