Street-sellers banished from Vatican for Jubilee

Rome, Dec 5 (IANS/AKI) Sellers and snack vans will be banned from Sunday near St Peter’s Basilica in Rome for the Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy starting next week.

The ban imposed for security reasons by Rome’s acting mayor Francesco Paolo Tronca will be there till November 20, 2016, according to the signed ordinance.

The ban will affect a total of 47 businesses, and has sparked anger in local street sellers.

Around 100 hawkers held a protest on Thursday against the ban, demanding a meeting with Tronca or with the city’s top government representative, Franco Gabrielli.

Some protesters attached yellow stars of David to their clothing to symbolise Nazi persecution during World War II.

“History is repeating itself!” and “Pope Francis – Rome’s Jews ask for help over the right to work!” read placards waved by protesters.

The leader of Rome’s association of street sellers, Fabio Giglio, said the Jubilee ban would be “fatal” for business.

He vowed that the association would hold a permanent protest till Tronca agree for a meeting.

The Jubilee ban on street sellers follows one in November on hawkers at the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Pantheon and the Spanish Steps, and on bicycle-drawn rickshaw drivers and touts selling tickets for monuments and tourist bus tours.

Rome is expected to welcome some 33 million pilgrims during the Jubilee Year of Mercy — which will begin on December 8, 2015 — amid heightened security fears following recent terrorist attacks in France and Mali.

Italy raised its security levels after the November 13 terror attacks in Paris that left at least 130 people dead and 350 injured.

The government said it was searching for five suspects after receiving a warning from the US authorities of possible attacks on targets including St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

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