“Absolutely abhorrent,” the European Jewish Congress said on X. “That gesture is from the darkest chapter of our history and must be left there.” 

NBC News – There was shock and outrage in Italy on Tuesday days after hundreds of people gave a fascist salute at a rally in Rome, sparking widespread condemnation and calls for the country’s far-right leader to take action. 

A video circulating online shows hundreds of people making the banned salute at an event Sunday commemorating the killing of three neo-fascist youths in the Italian capital in 1978.

The Acca Larentia killings, as they’re known, are marked annually, but this year’s public display and an apparent lack of police intervention has prompted criticism from opposition lawmakers.

The people in the video stand in at least a dozen rows and, when prompted by a voice shouting outside the frame, raise their right arms in a salute that dates to the regime of Benito Mussolini, Italy’s fascist dictator. 

They appear to shout “present” three times in unison in response to someone yelling: “For all fallen comrades,” a typical rallying cry at neo-fascist events, according to a Reuters translation. 

Under Italy’s post-World War II legislation, use of fascist symbolism, including the straight-armed salute, is banned.

The rally was held in front of the former headquarters of a post-war neo-fascist party called the Italian Social Movement (MSI), which gave root to the Brothers of Italy party now led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni

Meloni came to power in 2022 as Italy’s first female prime minister at the head of a coalition, giving the country its most right-wing government since World War II. She praised Mussolini in her youth but has since changed her stance and said there was “no space” in her party “for nostalgia for fascism, racism or antisemitism.”

“The video is obviously concerning, but it’s not surprising,” said Daniele Albertazzi, a professor of politics at the U.K.’s University of Surrey, who specializes in the European radical right and contemporary Italian politics. 

“There are in Italy several groups on the right of the governing Brothers of Italy,” he said, “which are very explicit in the fact that they are still inspired by not only the ideas and the values, but also even the iconography of fascism.”

But the video circulating online in the last few days was shot in a way that exposed the scale and the synchronicity of those participating in the Acca Larentia rally this year, Albertazzi told NBC News. “They really look like a platoon of soldiers in Nazi Germany,” he said.