Pants off in protest in Rome

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Pants off in protest in Rome

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Some march on parliament, others stage a sit in, and many prefer to demonstrate with music and banners. But what about dropping your pants in protest? That’s what five Italian businessmen have done outside the parliament in Rome. It was a comic scene but one with a serious purpose. The focus of the bare-legged group is Equitalia, a government agency which collects back-taxes and fines.

In their shirts and underwear and attracting surprised glares from passers-by they demanded the abolition of the agency which the men claim has led to the suicides of scores of their peers.

‘You are killing thousands of jobs,’ said the signs they clutched to their chests giving photographers a clear view of their legs. The five are part of the business lobby, Cobas Impresse which is one of two groups wanting to see the agency scrapped.

They believe Equitalia has helped heighten the economic slump which has gripped Italy by hounding the indebted owners of failing businesses. Their demand is backed up by what they claim are distressing figures for the number of people taking their own lives.

“In the past eighteen months, 162 businessmen have committed suicide because they have ended up in the teeth of this agency,” Guiseppe Graziani, president of Cobas Imprese, told reporters.

Italy’s economy, which is the eurozone’s third biggest, is in the grip of recession which has been dragging on for almost two years. Unemployment figures have risen and are currently running at 12 percent while thousands of companies have been forced to shut down.

No political parties have as yet joined in the campaign for the agency to be abolished, Graziana said although former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi whose party belongs to the left-right coalition led by Enrico Letta has previously called for Equitalia to be closed.

The agency was targeted with firebombs last year and an anarchist group sent a letter bomb at the end of 2011 that wounded one of the agency’s directors.

The protest by the five trouser-less businessmen passed of peacefully and for the record and those who are a little curious as to the protesters dress two of the men wore boxers, the other three briefs. A new fashion mode in Italy?