The social unrest in the Middle East may now have spread into Western Europe.
Up to one million people –including many women – have rallied in 200 cities and towns across Italy and elsewhere to demand the resignation of scandal-scarred Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Berlusconi face charges of abuse of power and having sexual relations with an underage prostitute.
The largest protest occurred in Rome where thousands descended upon the Piazza del Popolo – the site of violence two months ago after Berlusconi won a confidence vote.
Italian women are particularly incensed over how Berlusconi’s licentious behavior with young girls has harmed their dignity and harmed the country’s image.
The attendees (which have even included nuns and prostitutes) held up placards which read: “Berlusconi resign now” and “No prostitutes, no Madonnas, just women.”
Other protesters shouted Resign! Resign! Resign! and After Mubarak, Silvio Berlusconi.
Berlusconi is a close friend of the deposed Egyptian strongman. Unlike other Western leaders, Berlusconi has expressed his support for Mubarak.
“I am not here to criticize Berlusconi’s sex parties but I am here to criticize when they are used as a selection process,” an attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, told the rally. “If you stay silent in situations like this then you become an accomplice.”
Prosecutors in Milan are seeking to put Berlusconi on trial, but it’s not clear when, or if, such a trial will take place.
Berlusconi has denied charges that he abused his power – he even claimed that he thought the underage prostitute (a Moroccan girl named Ruby) was a relative of Mubarak.
However, some female members of the government have criticized the protest organizers.
“It’s just a small protest from trendy radical chic,” said Mariastella Gelmini, the minister of education minister.
Another minister, Daniele Santanche said: “It’s a shame there is so much hatred towards one man.”
Berlusconi’s approval rating is at about 35 percent.