Italy’s first black minister subject of banana attack

AFP-JIJI

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 Saturday.

Immigration Minister Cecile Kyenge was speaking at a Democratic Party rally 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 Kyenge, an Italian citizen born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, climaxing earlier this month with a member of the anti-immigration Northern League party who likened her to an orangutan.

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 network sites lit up with reactions, and ministers and political bigwigs took to Twitter to voice their anger and support for her.

Environment Minister Andrea Orlando expressed “utter indignation for the wretched act,” while Nunzia de Girolamo, the agriculture minister, said “Kyenge has shown that faced with idiotic and violent acts, sometimes the best weapon is irony.”

At a rally for the Left Ecology and Freedom party Saturday, where she was received with warm applause, Kyenge 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.”