Police in Rome clash with students protesting new PM Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party

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By Andrea Carlo
Police officers face demonstrators protesting on the sidelines of a G20 environment meeting, in Naples, Italy. Thursday 22 July 2021.
Police officers face demonstrators protesting on the sidelines of a G20 environment meeting, in Naples, Italy. Thursday 22 July 2021.   -   Copyright  Salvatore Laporta/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved

Rome's Sapienza University was the setting of a violent scuffle on Tuesday morning, as police officers clashed with left-wing students rallying against Giorgia Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy party.

The young activists had convened to protest certain Brothers of Italy politicians' attendance at a conference, holding a large banner that said "Fascists, get out of Sapienza [University]".

While the protest was allegedly peaceful, the situation descended into chaos after law enforcement officers tried to stop demonstrators from entering the conference. Certain campaigners were reportedly hit with batons, and video footage showed one individual being dragged and slammed into the ground.

Approximately fifty students were at the demonstration, Italian press reports have stated.

University authorities have condemned the police's supposed aggression, claiming it went against the spirit of free debate fostered by academic institutions.

Amnesty Italy also denounced the incident, tweeting that "peaceful protest is a fundamental right" that police officers must "facilitate".

Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy recently emerged as the country's biggest party in a snap general election last month, leading to her appointment as prime minister last Friday. While Meloni's political roots lie within Italy's neo-fascist tradition, the new premier has recently distanced herself from the ultra-nationalist ideology.

Former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, the leader of Italy's populist Five Star Movement and now a member of the opposition, denounced the police's alleged brutality on Tuesday while addressing Meloni in parliament.

"The images [of the clash] made me shudder... universities are places for democratic debates," he stated.

Additional sources • ANSA