Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Kyenge counter-attacks after avalanche of racist abuse

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)
Rome, July 30 - Italian Integration Minister Cecile
Kyenge - Italy's first black cabinet member - on Tuesday called
continued attacks by militants of the anti-immigrant Northern
League "intolerable" and demanded the party's national chief,
Lombardy Governor of Roberto Maroni, do something to put an end
to them.
"I consider the continued and repeated attacks by members
of the Northern League to be intolerable," Kyenge told reporters
on Tuesday.
"Despite having different ideas," people and political
leaders must "face each other with the ideas, and not through
insults or antics like those that took place in the council area
of the municipality of Cantu'," Kyenge said.
On Monday the Congo-born minister was invited to speak to
the town council by the mayor of the town near Lake Como. Two
Northern League councillors and an ex-Northern League councillor
subsequently left the hall in protest.
"Maroni must immediately call on militants to stop
attacking me now. If he doesn't, I will be forced to decline the
invitation to the Northern League festival," said Kyenge.
She is scheduled to debate Veneto's Northern League
governor, Luca Zaia, at an event on the northeastern Italian
coast.
The Cantu' incident came the same day Lower House MP Giulia
Narduolo of the Democratic Party (PD) denounced Andrea Draghi, a
Northern League councillor in Montagnana in Veneto, for a
Facebook photo and television ad slogan comparing Kyenge to a
gorilla.
Narduolo, who called on local politicians in Montagnana to
expel Draghi, said that when she saw the post, "I thought 'here
we go again'".
In some of the latest attacks against Kyenge, mannequins
smeared with blood-red paint and anti-immigrant messages were
found in the town of Cervia just as she arrived there for
political meetings on Friday.
Later, during her speech, someone in the audience threw a
banana, a likely reference to comments by a Senator from the
anti-immigration Northern League who compared her to an
orangutan.
That was followed by slurs against Kyenge, some in support
of the banana-thrower, posted on the Facebook pages of local
politicians in Tuscany and the Veneto region.
And police said Monday a man was under investigation after
threatening violence against Kyenge. Police searched the home of
the 61-year-old in Verona but found no weapons.
The continued attacks and racial slurs have "outraged many
citizens and raised concern about the racist feelings (expressed
by certain national leaders)," House Speaker Laura Boldrini said
on Monday.
Kyenge commented Tuesday that "in addition to hurting (me)"
the attacks and insults "injure the civil conscience of the
majority of this country".
Italy's National Office against Racial Discrimination
(UNAR) investigated 1,283 cases in 2012, up 61% on the year,
according to its Contact Center on Tuesday.
The UNAR emphasized that the data does not necessarily mean
incidents have increased, but could indicate a higher
sensitivity to possible discrimination by the public at large
and a greater tendency to report.
The majority of complaints, 19.6%, came from the northern
Lombardy region around Milan, followed by 14.4% in the central
Lazio region around Rome.
On the same day, Kyenge announced that the government in
November will review a national action plan against racism and
intolerance she prepared with Junior Minister Cecilia Guerra.
"The plan we're working on comes from requests from civil
society," Kyenge told journalists.
"Given recent acts of racism and violence, I believe it's
time to apply legislative measures that already exist and, if
necessary, to reinforce them.
"Before making new laws, let's start applying the ones we
have".

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