News / Europe

Italy Probes Racism Against African-Italian Minister

Congo-born Italian Minister for Integration Cecile Kyenge attends at the Lower house of the parliament in Rome, April 29, 2013.
Congo-born Italian Minister for Integration Cecile Kyenge attends at the Lower house of the parliament in Rome, April 29, 2013.
Selah Hennessy
The Italian government has ordered an inquiry into alleged racism on right-wing websites after slurs against the country's first black cabinet minister.

Italy's new Cabinet was sworn in on Sunday, and Cecile Kyenge took the post as minister of integration.
 
She is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to Italy three decades ago. She is now an Italian citizen, is married to an Italian and has two children.

But right-wing websites have posted a range of racial slurs against the country's first black Cabinet member.

A member of one website described Kyenge as a "Congolese Monkey."

On Wednesday the government ordered an investigation into the websites. The new equal opportunities minister who ordered the inquiry, Josefa Idem, described the comments as "vile racist epithets."

Comments about Kyenge's race have not only appeared online.
 
Speaking on the radio earlier this week, Italian politician Mario Borghezio from the Northern League party referred to the new government as a "bonga bonga government" and said that Africans "had not produced great genes."

Other Italian politicians have been critical of what they have called "racist vulgarities."

Andrea Mammone is an expert in European politics at the University of London. He said the comments made by the Northern League do not come as a surprise.

"It is not surprising when it comes from the Northern League. They have always rejected immigration and this woman is not coming from Italy," said Mammone.
 
The anti-immigration Northern League has in the past been an ally of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

But Mammone said views voiced by the party represent only a slice of Italian attitudes and do not necessarily reflect a wider racism.
 
"It reveals a xenophobic approach made by some people, by some specific parties. But it is not widespread, it is something that is part of the far right in Italy," Mammone added.

Kyenge on Tuesday took to the online networking site Twitter to respond to the insults. She said that even criticism can inform "if done with respect."

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mario Valdes from: Cambridge, MA, 02138
May 04, 2013 7:32 PM
Since she is being touted as Italy's first black government minister, it is all too obvious that despite the fact that our PBS Frontline website on him is the most comprehensive on this still otherwise verboten subject of Florentine history, the media remains blissfully ignorant of Alessandro de' Medici.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/medici.html

As the first Duke of Florence and, therefore, the first black head of state in modern Western history, he is also the ancestor of at least two Imperial Hapsburg Archdukes and a rather impressive roster of still highly influential European dynastic families. It is this genealogical information and the reason, after all, for the obscurity to which Alessandro de' Medici has been relegated by so many historians that would make his biography such an unimaginably important and useful one not only for Ms. Kyenge in her capacity as Minister of Integration but for the rest of the world, as well.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid