Protests in Rome over state broadcaster RAI's Gaza stance

Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate by Rai headquarters in Rome
Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate by Rai headquarters in Rome Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Katy DartfordMichela Morsa
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The action was sparked after Italian-Tunisian rapper Ghali used Italy's Eurovision Song Contest search programme to demand Israel "stop genocide"

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Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the RAI headquarters in Rome on Saturday, protesting against the state broadcaster's coverage of the conflict in Gaza.

The action followed protests in Milan, Turin, Florence, Naples and Bologna, where police clashed with demonstrators, injuring some with batons.

The protesters have accused RAI management of supporting Israel and ignoring the plight of Palestinians trapped in Gaza.

On Wednesday, Rai's chief executive, Roberto Sergio ended up under escort after receiving threats for the pro-Israel statement TV presenter Mara Venier read live on air.

Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate by Rai headquarters in Turin, Italy, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.
Pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrate by Rai headquarters in Turin, Italy, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.Alberto Gandolfo/LaPresse

Protesters in Rome shouted "Shame," "Sergio resign," and "Free Palestine," and hung a placard with "130 journalists killed in Gaza" written on it.

About 1,000 people then headed toward Viale Teulada, another of Rai's headquarters, shouting: "We are thousands, we are an anti-fascist tide".

The protest was organised by 'Spintime', a student group, and was joined by dozens of other associations, including Amnesty International. 

Protesters carried banners reading "not in our name" and demanded an independent and impartial public information service "not subservient to politics and especially to the government of Giorgia Meloni".

The demonstrators marched to the song 'Casa Mia' by Italian rapper Ghali which he performed at the 74th edition of the Sanremo Music Festival 2024.

The song was criticised by the head of the Milan Jewish community for its lyrical content, which references hospital bombings, accusing him of "anti-Israeli propaganda".

Artist Ghali Amdouni
Artist Ghali AmdouniEvan Agostini/2023 Invision

The song sparked controversy against RAI, after it distanced itself from Ghali's appeal to "stop the genocide" made during the closing night of the hugely popular song festival.

Following Ghali’s comments, the Israeli ambassador to Italy, Alon Bar, said the festival had been used to “spread hatred and provocation in a superficial, irresponsible way”.

Appearing on RAI the following day, Ghali said he had made calls for peace throughout his career. "People feel that they (risk) losing something if they support peace."

During the same programme, Venier read out Sergio's letter which expressed support for "the people of Israel and the Jewish community".

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