Italy’s first black government minister has endured racist insults and ridicule since taking office, but on Friday the harassment grew worse.
Integration minister Cecile Kyenge, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was giving a speech when all over a sudden a spectator began hurling bananas at her. None of the bananas hit Kyenge, but news pundits expressed shame at how the far right was representing Italy.
“Another shameful and disgraceful gesture. Solidarity with the Minister Kyenge. Now let’s just isolate the idiots,” said Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno.
Other Italians took to social media to express how ashamed they were to be living in a country where such racist views are held.
Italians on the far right hold anti-immigration views, especially toward Africans. And since Kyenge wants to make it easier for some immigrants to gain citizenship, she has become a lightening rod for racists.
In response to Kyenge’s proposal to allow anyone born in Italy to become a citizen, a far right group left fake mannequins covered in blo0d at the site of a rally in Cervia.
Ms Kyenge released a statement calling the banana throwing incident a “sad” waste of food.
“The courage and optimism to change things has to come above all from the bottom up to reach the institutions,” she continued.
It is not just random banana throwers who have been harassing Kyenge. A parliamentarian compared her to an orangutan earlier this month. Kyenge has remained dignified throughout the onslaught of racist ridicule.