Hindus are critical of Italy for reportedly continuous racial abuse suffered by the country’s first Black minister, Cecile Kyenge.
Minister Kyenge has been on the receiving end of racial taunts since taking office three months ago. The latest string of abuse, however, turned physical when someone threw bananas at her during a rally on Friday in Cervia where she was speaking to her supporters.
Minister Kyenge shrugged off the episode and said in a Twitter post, it was “a sad waste of food when so many people are dying of hunger.”
Before Kyenge arrived for the rally, far-right political group Forza Nuova [New Force] smeared blood-red paint on mannequins and attached signs reading, “Immigration kills.” Kyenge was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and came to study medicine in Italy in the 1980s, eventually becoming an Italian citizen.
Fliers were also scattered about the rally saying Italy’s future growth depends on “protecting the Italian identity,” as reported by the ANSA news agency.
Apparently, Italian politcians themselves are setting the scene for such racial attacks. Italian Senator Roberto, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League party, said at a political rally, “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.”
He later said, “If I’ve offended her, I apologize. It was a joke, a comment in a joking way. There was nothing particularly against her. It was just my impression. … It is all very well that she be a minister but in her own country. Given that this government needs to govern Italy, I hope that it is done by Italians.”
Kyenge has received death threats, and a local politician recently said on Facebook that Kyenge should be raped so she can understand the pain felt by victims of crime. She has been called a “Congolese monkey,” “Zulu,” and “the black anti-Italian.” One Northern League official said “she seems like a great housekeeper” but “not a government minister.”
Minister Kyenge said in a statement, “the time has come for us to study the problem of communication.”
Distinguished Hindu statesman, Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today pointed out that a country that produced such stellar Italians as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Puccini, Verdi, and Federico Fellini, should show some maturity and civility.
Zed, who is President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said that Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Enrico Letta should publicly apologize for this blatant and reprehensible display of racism in Italian politics and extend their unconditional support to Kyenge.
Rajan Zed further said that His Holiness Pope Francis, being the acclaimed representative of God on Earth and based just next door in the Vatican, should also raise his voice on this issue as “we were all equal in the eyes of God.”