Fascist salute legal at rallies unless it threatens public order, says Italy’s high court

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Italy’s high court has ruled that fascist salutes are legal at rallies unless they threaten public order or risk reviving the country’s outlawed fascist party.

Several members of Italy’s opposition parties and Jewish community leaders have criticized the ruling and plan to rally against it, according to local media reports.

The ruling comes nearly two weeks after a video showed more than 150 men performing the fascist salute – sometimes called the “Roman salute” – in central Rome to commemorate the January 7, 1978 killing of two members of a far-right youth group.

The high court ruling, handed down Thursday, is not related to the recent January 7 rally, which took place in front of the former headquarters of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) party, where Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni began her political career. No arrests have been made in relation to the rally, which remains under investigation.

In making its ruling, the court ordered a second appeals trial for eight men convicted of performing the salute at an event in Milan in 2016 commemorating the 1975 killing of a militant belonging to the neo-fascist CasaPound movement. Their 2016 conviction was upheld on its first appeal.

A date has not yet been set for the second appeal. The new ruling will have to be applied in the lower court’s decision, which will then focus on whether there was a threat to public order or if the salute was aimed at bringing back Italy’s fascist party.

Under Italy’s three-tier system, all criminal cases go through three levels: the primo or first grade; the automatic appellate or second grade, and then the high court of Cassazione, which determines if the case must return to the appellate level or is confirmed and closed.

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