A protester holds a lit flare during clashes with riot police during a demonstration against the visit of the leader of the Northern League party Matteo Salvini, in Naples, Italy, Saturday, March 11, 2017. (Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP)
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Italy's government vowed Sunday to defend far-right Northern League leader Matteo Salvini's right to free speech after violent clashes marred his first rally in Naples, proud capital of the country's poor south.Minniti's intervention came amid a row over whether Naples's leftist mayor, Luigi de Magistris, had encouraged activists bent on preventing Salvini speaking.Salvini, an anti-immigration, anti-euro populist who attracts protests whenever he ventures out of his base in Italy's wealthy north, said he would be filing a defamation suit against de Magistris.In the run-up to Saturday's clashes, the independent left-winger had branded Salvini a fascist xenophobe with contempt for southern Italy.He also tried to use his mayoral powers to deny the far-right leader a venue for his first rally in Naples.De Magistris, who had voiced support for the anti-Salvini protesters earlier in the week, said he did not condone what happened on Saturday.
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