[QODLink]
Europe
Italy students protest budget cuts
Thousands take to the streets a week after some of the most violent protests in Rome in years.
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2010 17:11 GMT
Despite scuffles with police in some cities, Wednesday's protest against the university bill were largely peaceful [AFP]

Thousands of students in cities across Italy have protested against a law that would result in cuts to university budget expected to be approved by parliament this week.

Police blocked off large parts of central Rome, the capital, to prevent a repeat of last week's violent clashes, but students managed to avoid the blockade.

Instead the demonstrators occupied part of a highway running to the east of the city, but many students made it clear they intended the action to be a peaceful one.

Some carried flags and banners emblazoned with non-violent slogans, and many had painted their hands white as a representation of their peaceful intent.

However clashes broke out at a protest in the city of Palermo, and there were reports of incidents in Naples, Milan and Turin.

The government says the new law, which could be voted on Wednesday or Thursday, will strengthen Italy's crumbling university system. But critics say will only cut funding without solving real problems.

Battle over reform

The battle over university reform has highlighted discontent over the future of Italy's youth, which has been fuelled by an official youth unemployment rate of around 25 per cent in the country and up to 35 per cent in the poorer south.

"We will certainly continue mobilising," Claudio Rizzo, a Rome student, told the Reuters news agency.

"It's not only a mobilisation against university reforms but of a generation that is making itself heard again over the politics of the country, the issues we face and the precarious situation in which we live."

During last week's demonstration, cars were torched and shop windows smashed in street battles between protesters and riot police after the initially peaceful march descended into some of the worst violence seen in Rome for years.

Some 41 people were taken into custody and almost 100 were reported injured in the action.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
About 500,000 participated around the globe in the Peoples Climate March, and Al Jazeera spoke to some in New York.
Separatist movements in Spain, Belgium and Italy may face headwinds following Scotland's decision to stay in the UK.
A fishing trawler carrying 500 migrants across the Mediterranean was rammed by another boat, causing hundreds to drown.
Anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party - with roots in the neo-Nazi movement - recently won 12.9 percent of the vote.
Palestinian doctor who lost three daughters in previous Gaza war is fighting to bring 100 wounded kids to Canada.