Choose your weapon of political protest

Politicians are used to verbal abuse, but sometimes, as Italy's Prime Minister discovered last week, they attract stronger protests
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That the controversial Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, should be struck at a public rally was, perhaps, no great surprise. That the missile which did the damage should be a small replica of Milan's cathedral – leaving him with a broken nose and a Christmas wish for two new front teeth – is an unpleasant departure from the usual weapons of choice.

Echoing the traditional means of punishing petty criminals bound in the stocks, the pelting of politicians with rotten fruit, eggs and vegetables has a long history. More recent missiles have included custard pies and stress balls. Most peltings render the high-profile target too shocked to respond. Others, famously, are provoked to furious retaliation: in 2001, John Prescott, a former boxer, hit back at a protester who egged him. Pictures of the ensuing brawl went around the world – and did the reputation of the then Deputy Prime Minister little harm.

Mr Berlusconi, 73, left hospital after four days of treatment and was taken to his villa near Milan. He is now under strict instructions to rest for at least two weeks, and doctors have said his injuries are causing him significant pain. Sales, meanwhile, of the Duomo di Milano statuette used in the attack were reported to have increased markedly.

Fortunately, assaults by the disgruntled on public figures are designed chiefly to humiliate and usually lead to nothing worse than a bruised ego. Cathedral replicas aside, here are 10 notorious weapons used in such protests, which, of course, the IoS does not condone.

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