Jul 29, 2013

    Italy minister unfazed by racist attack

    THE latest racist attack against Italy's first black minister, in which bananas were hurled at her during a rally, sparked outrage across the political spectrum last Saturday.

    Immigration Minister Cecile Kyenge was speaking at a Democratic Party rally last Friday when an unidentified spectator threw bananas at her, missing the stage but sparking reactions of disgust from across the country.

    Shocking cases of abuse have multiplied against Ms Kyenge, an Italian citizen born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, climaxing earlier this month with a member of the anti-immigration Northern League party likening her to an orang utan.

    Ms Kyenge, who has refused to rise to the bait or write Italy off as racist, immediately reacted to the banana attack by slamming it as "a waste of food".

    Social networks lit up with reactions, and ministers and political heavyweights took to Twitter to voice their anger and support for her.

    At a rally for the Left Ecology and Freedom party last Saturday, where she was received with warm applause, she said she was "proud to be Italian".

    "I do not believe the problem lies with me. There are some people who are not happy, who are showing their discontent, and it is my job to listen to that discontent," she told journalists. "I have to draw out the better side of Italy."

    Tensions were running high even before the banana incident, after members of the country's right-wing Forza Nuova association left life-size dolls doused in fake blood at the rally.