Tight security in Rome for anti-fascist rally on 24 February

Four rallies taking place in Rome amid rising political tensions.

Rome police chiefs have drawn up a security plan to deal with four separate demonstrations scheduled in the capital on Saturday 24 February, as political tensions increase in the lead-up to Italy's 4 March elections.

The largest of the demonstrations has been organised by the national association of partisans (ANPI) whose Mai più fascismo (fascism never again) march is expected to involve around 20,000 people. The protest is scheduled from 13.00-17.00, starting in Piazza della Repubblica and ending in Piazza del Popolo.

Security chiefs have banned demonstrators from carrying “blunt objects and rigid flag poles” and from wearing helmets and hard hats, as well as any clothing or devices used to conceal identity. Police say the measure is designed to prevent groups of mobs from infiltrating the marches.

The anti-fascist protest takes place amid rising political and racial tensions during an election campaign increasingly dominated by the issue of immigration. Italian interior minister Marco Minniti has also said there is a "concrete risk of the mafia conditioning the free vote."

On 20 February the Sicilian head of the far-right political party Forza Nuova (FN) was hospitalised after being bound and beaten by six masked attackers in Palermo. On 21 February, in the north-west Trionfale area of Rome, a swastika and a message saying A morte le guardie ("death to cops") was scrawled on a monument honouring five police bodyguards killed by Red Brigades terrorists during the March 1978 abduction of former premier Aldo Moro, who was later slain by his captors.

The other three demonstrations taking place in Rome on 24 February include a rally organised by trade union organisation Si Cobas against Italy's controversial Jobs Act - whose reforms are designed to create greater flexibility in the Italian labour market - from Piazza Esquilino and Piazza Madonna di Loreto. The demonstration is scheduled between 14.00 and 19.00 and is expected to involve around 4,500 people.

A sit-in organised by the Movimento no vax, a movement against obligatory vaccines, is planned in Piazza Porta di S. Giovanni from 14.00-18.00, with around 10,000 protesters expected. The fourth demonstration, also in the afternoon, is scheduled outside the detention centre for illegal immigrants in Ponte Galeria, east of the capital, where pro-immigrant “antagonist groups” will protest Italy's current immigration legislation.

The demonstrations will result in numerous public bus detours - for traffic updates see Muoversi a Roma website.