Police are investigating after an effigy of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg was spotted hanging from a bridge in Rome.
The effigy was wearing a poncho and long plaits with a sign written in English that said: ‘Greta is your God.’
Italian police said an inquiry into ‘aggravated threats’ had been opened with local politicians condemning the shocking attack.
It came the same day that thousands of Extinction Rebellion activists joined protests in cities around the world to demand action on climate change, including in Berlin, Amsterdam and Sydney.
Greta has supported the group in the past and publicly called for the ‘acts of civil disobedience’ exemplified by the group.
Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi said her city was in ‘solidarity’ with Greta, 16, and her family, in a message on Twitter.
Leader of the democratic party in Italy, Nicola Zingaretti, called the act one of ‘grisly violence’ and said the party does not respect the values shared by those responsible for the effigy.
Greta has led a movement of young activists after launching her ‘Fridays for Future’ school strike campaign a year ago.
Since then, millions of students across the world have walked out of school on Fridays to march for the environment.
In a powerful speech to the United Nations Climate Action Summit last month, Greta told world leaders: ‘This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.
‘Yet you have come to us young people for hope. How dare you.’
She has been tipped as a possible winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize but the Swedish schoolgirl has also been attacked for demanding world leaders take action against the climate crisis.
She has been accused of virtue signalling, of catastrophising and of creating a generation of depressed and anxious children who fear the end of the world is nigh.
She has even been attacked by adults who have used her Asperger’s diagnosis to imply she is ‘deeply disturbed’ or ‘mentally unwell’.
Environmental psychologist Dr Renee Lertzman told Metro.co.uk Greta’s meteoric rise ‘reflects a profound, collective yearning for sanity and leadership’ on climate change.
Greta herself hit back at her ‘haters’ on Twitter, saying: ‘I honestly don’t understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science, when they could do something good instead.
‘I guess they must simply feel so threatened by us.’
Yesterday in London, police arrested 280 people involved in the XR demonstrations that targeted streets around government buildings in Westminster as part of the coordinated actions taking place around the world.
More road closures are expected today as a predicted 30,000 protesters are predicted to descend on the capital.