italians plan protest against Bush visit on 4 June
The Irish Anti-War Movement
Published on Friday, May 28, 2004 by Agence France Presse Italian Authorities Braced for Protests During Bush Visit ROME - The Italian authorities warned of "serious threats" to a smooth visit by US President George W. Bush to Rome next week when groups plan to stage mass demonstrations against US policy in Iraq.
"Serious threats, which worry us but do not frighten us, are emerging for ... Bush's visit," Pisanu told the party congress of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative Forza Italia.
"You have only to scan the Internet, let alone other signals, to get an idea of how the threats to security and public order are piling up," he said.
Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said his country is bracing for possible disturbances during US President George W. Bush's controversial visit to Rome next week. (AFP/Cristina Quicler) An alliance of anti-globalization groups along with the Greens and the Communists said earlier this month that they planned mass demonstrations to greet Bush when he comes to Rome next Friday and Saturday ahead of appearances in Paris and Normandy, France, for celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the June 6, 1994, D-Day landings.
The center-left opposition party has called on tens of thousands of pacifists to take to the streets on June 4 in an authorized demonstration to protest US policies in Iraq.
The Iraq war is deeply unpopular in Italy, which in February 2003 saw up to three million people take to the streets of Rome to protest the impending US-led invasion.
Pisanu said Friday: "We are ready to confront them without straying one millimeter from our golden rule, the rule of the constitution: to guarantee to all the right to demonstrate their opinions peacefully and without weapons, while guaranteeing everyone else the right to lead a normal daily life."
The interior minister added: "I want it to be clear to everyone that we will make no room for violence. The state cannot allow violent, subversive people, national and international terrorists to interfere with the free political choice of the citizens, compromising the very democratic vitality of the country."
Bush "is coming to Italy and to Europe to find a reasonable resolution to the Iraqi tragedy, to consolidate peace and to restore freedom and sovereignty to a people victimized by dictatorship and three wars over these past 20 years," he said.
Police chief Gianni de Gennaro said "around 200 to 300 violent people will try to create disorder and provoke clashes to achieve the maximum exposure in the media."
The Italian authorities in particular fear the kind of violence and disorder that marred the G8 summit in Genoa in July 2001, when one demonstrator was killed.
There were also violent demonstrations in October 2003 during the launch in Rome of the intergovernmental conference on the future European constitution. Then, the Italian police charged demonstrators and used tear gas to break up the protest.
For Bush's visit Italian secret service operatives have stepped up surveillance of mosques fearing attacks by Islamic extremists, press reports said.
A 10,000-strong security contingent will be deployed in addition to US forces, of whom several dozen arrived in Rome several weeks ago to prepare the ground for Bush's visit, which is to include an audience with Pope John Paul II.
Next Friday is also the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Rome by US and Allied forces.
City officials said that in addition to uniformed police drafted from all over the country, around 100 plain clothes police will mingle with the crowds during the visit, whose exact itinerary is being kept secret for security reasons.
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