Bananas thrown at Italy’s Congolese-born minister for integration
Cécile Kyenge has been victim of repeated racist insults since her appointment as integration minister
Italian minister for integration Cecile Kyenge: “As a minister my security is fully guaranteed but there are plenty of [immigrant] people today who suffer similar insults and who have no protection.” Photograph: Reuters/Tony Gentile
Italy’s black integration minister, Congolese-born Cécile Kyenge, yesterday said she feared for the safety of Italy’s five-million-strong immigrant community after she was yet again the subject of racist abuse on Saturday.
Two weeks ago senior Northern League exponent Roberto Calderoli said that Ms Kyenge reminded him of an “orang-utan”. On Saturday, as she was addressing a Democratic Party meeting in Cervia on the Adriatic coast, bananas were thrown at her.
The person who threw the bananas was not apprehended and has not been identified. In a possibly related incident earlier in the day, the extreme right-wing Forza Nuova movement had protested with dummies, sprayed with fake blood and bearing the inscription, “Immigration kills”.
Essentially, Forza Nuova and other right-wing organisations are strongly opposed to the minister’s ius soli plan to make anyone born on Italian soil an Italian citizen.
Since her appointment as minister last May, Ms Kyenge has repeatedly been the object of racist insults. She has consistently responded in moderate, often ironic tones. On Saturday she said that the banana throwing was a “waste of food . . . in a world where people go hungry”.
However, speaking to daily newspaper La Repubblica yesterday, she said she feared not so much for herself but for her two children and for other immigrants.
“My children are right behind me and give me every encouragement to keep going . . . However, I often think of them, of their well-being and their safety . . . Also, I have to point out that as a minister my security is fully guaranteed but there are plenty of [immigrant] people today who suffer similar insults and who have no protection.”