Pros and cons: Milan protesters confront anti-immigration rally

Thousands of people took to the streets of Milan on Saturday as anti-immigration demonstrators from the right-wing Lega Nord party were confronted by an anti-racism rally.

Crowds of Lega Nord (Northern League) supporters joined the party leaders, carrying “Stop Invasion” banners. The protest was aimed against illegal immigration and the Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) operation – a special search and rescue program launched in Italy last year to save migrants lost at sea.

The demonstration was met with a counter-march, with around 1,500 participants chanting slogans against the Northern League movement and carrying caricatures of the party's leaders.

Members of various social and community centers, along with anti-fascist activists and associations, gathered in what they dubbed an "anti-racism demonstration." Muslim women wearing veils reportedly marched in the front row.

The counter-rally participants carried banners reading, "He who loves freedom, hates racism.”

"Obviously, this is their concept of democracy. Now we have become accustomed," Northern League regional councilor Francesco Bruzzone said after being confronted by protesters, as quoted by local media.