by Alessandra Arpaia

CW: violence

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Italian party Fratelli d’Italia, recently published a book about his life. An Italian journalist described the book as “the biography of a leader who has been trying for some time to humanize her public image”. Another called it the “perfect influencer bio,” and a book filled with “preset phrases that would look great on Instagram.” Many others have criticized the book for its outright lies. Needless to say, this sparked widespread controversy.

After a bookseller in the Roman quarter of Tor Bella Monaca refused to sell the book – “Better to eat bread and onions than to feed this kind of edition, ”declared the bookseller on a Facebook post – activists from Fratelli d’Italia decided to take matters into their own hands and distribute the book for free in a high school in the same neighborhood. Fascist groups continue to exert a powerful and disturbing influence on young people in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Italy.

Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) is one of the most important far-right parties in Italy. After a 4-5% poll in 2018, the far-right populist party has grown exponentially. It is now one of the most powerful far-right parties in Italy, with 16.3% of the vote. The party gained popularity thanks to the pop icon status of its leader. Giorgia Meloni was born in Rome in 1977 and has been the face of the FDI for several years. She has participated in rallies against same-sex marriage, secretly known as “Family Day”, to promote the idea of ​​so-called “traditional families”. It is ironic that the participants and supporters of this gathering, however, do not practice exactly what they preach. On the one hand, Giorgia Meloni herself had a daughter out of wedlock, and the husband of Alessandra Mussolini (granddaughter of Benito Mussolini and politician) was investigated for having had relations with minors. In addition, Matteo Salvini of the right-wing Northern League had several girlfriends and children from different relationships.

Meloni has been able to ride the wave of this digital age. Although their infamous singing against same-sex couples went viral among their followers, a DJ duo from Milan created a simulated remix of their vocals which became popular on the Milan club scene in 2019 and boosted their notoriety. among LGBTQ + communities. Italians are obsessed with trash TV, which allows the song to quickly make it even more popular than it was before. Her status as a pop icon made her the poster for the Italian far right, with Matteo Salvini of the Northern League who knew how to use the Internet to his great advantage by being constantly active on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram. , as well as appearing on national television shows.

Meloni is also very close to the neofascist group Casapound. Casapound, born as a Mussolini fan club in the early 2000s, has since grown considerably. Their modus operandi is strongly reminiscent of the years of Mussolini’s government, and they declare that their membership is more than just “a way of life”. By creating book clubs, sports clubs, and putting up posters in the streets, they are acting directly in their territories and are making a big “recruiting” effort.

Their mode of operation is strongly reminiscent of

years of the Mussolini government

Its members are known for their violent approach to politics, although they are smart enough to never claim responsibility for the violence, they never condemn it either. In 2018, Luca Traini, 28, engaged in a shootout in the town of Macerata. Even though he was mostly involved in the Northern League, he was also close to neo-fascist organizations like Casapound and Forza Nuova, which took the time to defend him and all those “Italians left behind”.

Tor Bella Monaca, where Meloni’s book is distributed free, is a neighborhood of 30,000 inhabitants, built in the 1980s to provide a solution to the housing emergency. Today, he faces issues of drug trafficking, violence and associated stigma due to the story of a degraded neighborhood. As is often the case in other difficult neighborhoods in Italy, such as the outskirts of Milan or Naples, its inhabitants are often left to fend for themselves due to being abandoned by the government and must therefore resort to to self-organization.

Young people and children of this

area are particularly vulnerable …

Youth and children in this region are particularly vulnerable, and Casapound and other neo-fascist militant groups are often found outside schools, recruiting young people to participate in their group actions and protests. Despite the killings and violence committed by Casapound members, they often disguise themselves as an activist group with good intentions. The group presents itself as “a space of freedom, where anyone who has something to say and cannot say it elsewhere will always find political asylum”. Needless to say, this is often a compelling promise for anyone who feels left behind by the system. As Norwich Radical co-editor Alex Valente once summed up in an article: “Fascism attacks the uneducated, the excluded, those who feel forgotten by society”.

Earlier this month, another news exploded, as a high school in Messina, Sicily hosted a presentation of Meloni’s new book during school hours and made it compulsory for schoolchildren to be present. Meloni has since denied being invited to the school – however, it remains troubling that the school even intended to host an event like this in the first place.

Perhaps one person refusing to sell Meloni’s book may not be enough to counter the wave of far-right popularity on the internet and the appeal of Casapound among the lower strata of society, but it is at least a sign of resistance and hope in the face of the exponential rise of the far right and their ability to infiltrate schools that should be politically neutral spaces and free from fascist propaganda.

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