Italy’s first black minister Cecile Kyenge has been subjected to another racial attack on Friday when an unknown assailant threw bananas at her during a rally in Cervia. The incident is the latest of the several harassments the Minister of Integration has endured since she was appointed in April.
Ms Kyenge was speaking to her supporters at a Democratic Party rally on Friday when an unidentified attacker threw bananas at her. The bananas missed the stage, though, landing on the spectators’ row instead.
The police haven’t found the culprit, while Ms Kyenge has just shrugged off the incident, as she has with prior ones.
She wrote about the attack on Twitter, saying that it was a sad waste of food when so many people are dying of hunger.
Ms Kyenge was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but moved to Italy in 1983. She has been married to an Italian since 1994. She has entered politics in 2004 and was appointed as a minister in April.
Her appointment didn’t sit well with right-wing extremist parties, however. Ms Kyenge suffered racial slurs and abuses since she took her position.
Before she arrived at the rally, political group Forza Nuova smeared red paint with anti-immigration messages on life-sized dolls at the rally in protest over Ms Kyenge’s campaign to help children born in the country to foreign parents acquire citizenship.
The group denied that it was responsible for the banana incident.
She also didn’t escape harassments from her fellow politicians. Earlier in July, Senator Roberto Calderoli had likened Ms Kyenge to an orangutan.
“I love animals – bears and wolves, as everyone knows – but when I see the pictures of Kyenge, I cannot but think of, even if I’m not saying she is one, the features of an orangutan,” Mr Calderoli, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League party, said during a rally in the Treviso, adding that Ms Kyenge should be a minister “in her own country.”
He has told the Italian news agency Ansa that he has since apologised to Ms Kyenge, though only after his comment provoked a storm of criticism on social media.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta called the comments “beyond all limits,” offering his “full solidarity and support to Cecile.”
Another Northern League member was expelled from the party earlier after he suggested on Facebook that Ms Kyenge should be raped so that she can understand the pain felt by victims of atrocious crimes, which he blames on immigrants.
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