Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Calderoli quit call over orangutan minister slur

English
© ANSA

(By Kate Carlisle)
Rome, July 15 - The Democratic Party (PD) on
Monday called for Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli to
quit for saying Italy's first black minister looked like an
orangutan, while Premier Enrico Letta said the episode was
"shameful".
The top party in Italy's grand coalition said the Northern
League bigwig's bid to "minimise" his remarks against Congo-born
Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge could not excuse them.
"Enough already," the PD said in a note after Calderoli
claimed he had been joking and he was known for comparing
ministers to animals.
"We can't leave scope for inexcusable racism, insults, the
instigation of the worst instincts," the PD said.
Letta called on the head of Calderoli's party, Lombardy
Governor Roberto Maroni, to intervene.
Letta appealed to Maroni on Monday to quickly close the
"shameful chapter" caused by Calderoli that has hit the foreign
press in "all of Europe".
On Monday Calderoli told the Italian daily paper Il
Corriere della Sera that his comments Kyenge, slammed as the
umpteenth racist insult by anti-immigration Northern League
members, were born from his "love for animals".
The Northern League heavyweight brushed off his comparison
of the Congolese-born minister saying it was "an aesthetic
judgment, not meant to be racist".
Calderoli was quoted on Sunday as saying :"When I see her
(Kyenge's) pictures, I can't help but think of her resemblance
to an orangutan" while speaking at town festival in Carroccio a
Treviglio near his home city of Bergamo.
Despite first saying that his comments were part of a
larger discussion on immigration, later Sunday Calderoli phoned
Kyenge to apologize.
Maroni said that the Senator had "done well to apologize,"
but that his comments had been fueled by "immigration policies
proposed by Kyenge that are not only wrong, they contribute to
the uncontrollable influx of immigration" into Italy.
Kyenge has been the subject of racist abuse, mostly from
the anti-immigrant League, since her appointment in the PD's
unprecedented coalition with its traditional foe, the People of
Freedom (PdL) Party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, in April.
Kyenge has been pushing to ease immigration norms in Italy
and for children born to migrants in the country to be
automatically granted Italian citizenship.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano spoke out on Sunday
against the slur, as well, expressing "indignation" at the
latest attack on Kyenge.
However, League Deputy Secretary Matteo Salvini struck
back saying: "I am angry at those who are indignant. It would be
best if Napolitano shuts up," Salvini said.
Yet another Northern League member added fuel to the fire
when he said that in the comparison to Kyenge, the "real victim
is the orangutan".
Regional councillor and Veneto League member Daniele
Stival said on Facebook that an orangutan is "one of God's
creatures" and should not be compared to a "Congolese minister".
Stival removed the post shortly after and said that he had
made a mistake.
The PD said that Calderoli's comments were already spurring
copycat incidents like the rightist Forza Nuova Party dangling
nooses during a visit by Kyenge to the Abruzzo coastal city of
Pescara Monday.
Calderoli has a history of xenophobic stunts, including a
2006 TV appearance wearing a T-shirt bearing cartoons of the
prophet Mohammed which sparked riots in Libya that left 11 dead.
He was forced to resign as reforms minister at the time.
Later that year he made racist remarks about the France
team that lost to Italy in the 2006 World Cup Final, saying it
was because the opposing team was stacked with "negroes, Muslims
and communists".
In 2007 he campaigned against a planned mosque in Milan,
leading a pig over the site.
PD Senator Sergio Lo Giudice responded on Monday with an
official complaint filed with Italy's anti-racial discrimination
body against the deputy Senate speaker.
"This morning I sent Italy's National Office against Racial
Discrimination (UNAR) a formal communication about the
disturbing incident of racially motivated offenses against
Minister Cecile Kyenge," Lo Giudice said.
"I felt that it was my duty to report this episode that,
due to the institutional source it comes from, is particularly
serious and reflects conduct based on the idea of racial
superiority and discrimination on the basis of ethnic
backgrounds," Lo Giudice said.

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