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    Italian Interior Minister and right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini, gestures as he arrives for a lunch at an hotel in Milan, Italy, Monday, July 2, 2018. The leader of the right-wing party in Italy's populist government told tens of thousands of supporters Sunday he wants to turn next year's European Parliament election into a referendum on immigration and job security

    Matteo Salvini Says He Respects Greta-Inspired Young Protesters More Than Their Adult ‘Exploiters’

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    Just as in many countries around the globe, over one million people, including teenagers, joined Fridays for Future rallies in cities across Italy to call on politicians to act against global warming, according to organisers. While Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte promised to take action, his former deputy and vocal opponent took a different approach.

    Former Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini greeted girls and boys who took to the streets to rally for a better future and a cleaner world, saying that “they always deserve respect”. However, he also lambasted the “adults who exploit them”, saying they deserve less respect.

    The chair of the right-wing Lega party was also practical, so to speak, urging young participants of the thousands-strong Climate Strikes, inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, across the country to eat local products to contribute to the battle.

    “To protect the environment, eating the products of our land, of our sea, is fundamental as well: they are less polluted. Eating Italian and drinking Italian is good for health and the environment because it pollutes less for we do not transport the goods that come from who knows where", he said in his address on Facebook Live, as cited by the Italian news agency ANSA.

    His message to the young protesters echoed the stance of his political opponent, incumbent Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who praised their passion and promised that his government will take action.

    "The images of the #fridaysforfuture protests are extraordinary, with so many young people taking part with passion. There is the maximum commitment on my behalf and that of the government to translate this request for change into concrete solutions”, his tweet reads, as translated by ANSA.

    According to the organisers of the event, cited by the outlet, over one million people took part in rallies across Italy. The largest protests took place in Rome, where 200,000 joined the Friday strike, and Milan, with 150,000 protesters. 160 cities and town are said to have witnessed rallies. Italian Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti, representing the 5-Star Movement (M5S), has encouraged public school principals to let students be absent from lessons for the cause.

    ​Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, who is said to have inspired the climate school movement, sent a shout-out to the numerous Italian protesters via Twitter, sharing a video and photo from rallies there. The 16-year-old Swede has been given a stage this week at the UN climate summit, addressing politicians with the now-viral “How Dare You?” speech, accusing them of inaction. Shortly before this, on 20 September, climate rallies kicked off in 130 countries. Over 20 countries joined the wave of protests this Friday.

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    Tags:
    Protests, climate, Lega Party, Matteo Salvini, Greta Thunberg, Italy
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