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Column: What is Going on in My Country? The Rise of Intolerance and of Intolerance to the Intolerance in Italy

Up to a few decades ago, protests were mainly aimed at the expansion and recognition of human rights. Nowadays, along with the spread of nationalism and intolerance around the world, many right-wing groups and politicians have started contesting their nature and people’s right to be treated equally. This can be well regarded in Italy, where conservative social movements have witnessed impressive growth in popularity. Actually, several heads of these protests have recently met, together with international experts and supporters of the same ideals, in the ‘Verona’s World Congress of Families’.

Names of this kind along with images of the ‘traditional family’ are self-explanatory: they recall strictly catholic and nationalistic groups in favour of a return to the ‘old values’, according to which a family is allowed to exist only when composed of a hard-working father and a children-caretaking housewife. Also, they’re rigorously biased when it comes to other bioethical and social topics. The meeting has hosted figures ranging from important politicians such as Matteo Salvini (former minister of internal affairs) and Giorgia Meloni to international leaders like the Moldavian president Igor Dodon.

Similar movements emerge as a reaction against the recognition of rights to certain categories of people. However, supporters avoid considering themselves in the same way, just as if they were ashamed of being pointed at as ‘fascist’ or ‘bigoted’, which is why demonstrators in Verona presented their opinions as a ‘different point of view’. And even more debatable events are being normalised in Italy: on October, 27th, Mussolini’s crypt was opened, and Column: What is Going on in My Country? many neofascist groups carried around his coffin in a sort of procession, during which people would gather, adore the symbol of their anger and fears, and nostalgically think about the ‘good old days’. Nostalgia for something they have never experienced on their skins. 

However, Italy is a mess, and there have been proper reactions to those reactionary protests lately. The most unconventional one, resulted from the drag of hearing everywhere statements against the LGBTQIA+ community, includes the latest musical parody of Meloni’s speech on this matter, which is presently being played in fancy nightclubs of the gay-friendly Milan. Another ‘silent and peaceful’ protest, as stated in its manifesto, is the ‘6000 Sardine’s movement’, arisen as a non-partisan and apolitical manifestation against Salvini’s campaign in Bologna, historically the ‘reddest’ city in the country. Its primary organisers, four exflatmates during university, aimed at gathering people from any background and any party to only demonstrate that the number of those willing to put an end to the spread of racism and nationalism is way higher than what the fake statistics and the right-wing spokespeople show. The purpose was to fill the main squares of Italian cities with a number of people exceeding the one foreseen by local rules, namely to ‘sardine’ all together. And it did not stop over there! In fact, the Sardine’s movement has reached a whole range of cities all around the world, as well as the beautiful canals of Amsterdam, where a group of people, including a 2nd-year student of our faculty, has organised the ‘6000 Sardine Olandesi’ movement for Italian expats living in the Netherlands on November, 30th, and December, 14th, in Dam Square.


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