Author: Giovanna Spanò, the University of Florence

One year on from the anti-vax manifestation in Rome, in which alt-right Italian movement Forza Nuova orchestrated violent actions against the headquarters of the Italian trade union CGIL, political extremism has returned to dominate the Italian news. As emerged from the national report on Italy, and as confirmed by the D.Rad comparative analysis, the focus on violent religious extremism appears to be a transversal trend in Europe (and beyond). Nonetheless, the threat of violent political activists, especially coming from alt- and far- right scenarios, has been progressively spreading in Italy, and in Europe in general.

On the 27th of October, a young white supremacist was arrested in Bari, in the southern Italian Region of Puglia. Charges are those of enlistment for the purpose of international terrorism, propaganda, and incitement to commit crimes on the ground of racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination. He was training himself to act as a lone actor and to carry out violent activities, in defense of the ‘white race’, to be protected by any means. In this case, the radicalization process presents its typical (and stereotypical) features: online indoctrination, the creation of a network through the Telegram channel called ‘Sieg Heil’, threats against Italian institutions and especially addressed to the Jewish Italian senator Liliana Segre. Also, violent actions were to be planned and anti-Semitic, racist, and misogynist contents were disseminated. 

This event may mark a step forward, breaking the invisible ‘glass ceiling’ on the increased role of alt- and far- right movements in Italy, with transnational vocations and aims as well. In fact, the arrested Italian white supremacist was closely linked to the US movement ‘The Base’, calling himself “Comandante della Base” (‘Chief of the Base’). Similarly, to the jihadist-inspired Takfirist religious movements, alt- and far-right associations were born ‘isolated’, later organizing themselves beyond national boundaries, arranging networks and creating contacts able to embody a threat without borders. This is also confirmed by the incidents in which the Italian white supremacist propaganda materials praised the Buffalo massacre in the United States (May 2022), the author of the Oslo and Utøya attacks, in Norway in 2011, as well as the neo-fascist racist-inspired assault that took place in Marche Region in 2018, where six migrants were shot and severely injured by a young Italian man.

It is well-known that institutions shall take the phenomenon of alt- and far-right extremism ‘seriously’, as well as neo-fascist neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations, also evaluating their international reach. However, the reasons why these (violent) political backgrounds remain paradoxically reverse-discriminated, being under-represented and under-reported among the most serious and most urgent threats to be challenged seems still a question to be answered.