• Italy's news in English
 

Ministers respond to racist banana attack

Published: 27 Jul 2013 20:37 GMT+02:00

Immigration Minister Cecile Kyenge was speaking at a Democratic Party (PD) rally on 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 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 networks lit up with reactions, and ministers and politicians took to Twitter to voice their anger and support for Kyenge. 

Italy's environment minister Andrea Orlando expressed "utter indignation for the wretched act", while the agriculture minister, Nunzia De Girolamo, 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 (SEL) party on 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."

Supporters called for Kyenge to stand firm and continue the fight to eradicate racism.

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.

The group was protesting over Kyenge's campaign to help children born in Italy to foreign parents obtain citizenship more easily.

Forza Nuova denied it had anything to do with the fruit incident.

Italy, which for decades was a land of emigration, has relatively little experience in dealing with immigration.

While millions of Italians fleeing poverty emigrated to the United States, Latin America and other parts of Europe throughout the 20th century, the Mediterranean country has only had to absorb large numbers of immigrants over the past 20 years or so, mainly from Africa. 

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The Local List
James Bond's best Italian moments
Bond, played by Roger Moore, in a gondola in Moonraker. Screengrab: Adrien Malbosc/YouTube

James Bond's best Italian moments

From a car chase along the Sardinian coast to a high-speed gondola chase in Venice, Italy has provided the backdrop for some of the most exciting James Bond scenes to date. As filming wraps on Spectre - the latest 007 film - we take a look at Bond’s best Italian moments. READ  

How Islamic college plan has split Italian town
Plans are underway to bring an Islamic University to Lecce, in Puglia. Photo: Lecce photo: Shutterstock

How Islamic college plan has split Italian town

Plans to build an Islamic university for 5,000 students in a small town in Italy's heel will help change attitudes towards Muslims, organizers say. But many locals are afraid that it will change the character of Lecce - and are asking who's paying for it. READ  

Ten dead after migrant boat capsizes off Sicily
The EU pledged last month to increase aid to Italy to help cope with the ongoing influx of migrants. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

Ten dead after migrant boat capsizes off Sicily

UPDATED: A boat transporting migrants has capsized off Sicily, killing at least ten people, while hundreds have been rescued in various incidents over the past day, the Italian coast guard said on Wednesday. READ  

3.7 earthquake hits Tuscany overnight
The earthquake's epicentre was registered between Florence and Siena. Tuscany photo: Shutterstock

3.7 earthquake hits Tuscany overnight

People living in the Florence and Siena areas were woken by strong tremors after an earthquake registering 3.7 on the Richter scale hit Tuscany overnight. READ  

Brazil orders deportation of Italian extremist
Italian extremist and writer Cesare Battisti at his home in Rio de Janeiro in 2007. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

Brazil orders deportation of Italian extremist

A Brazilian federal judge on Tuesday ordered the deportation of Italian extremist and writer Cesare Battisti, convicted of murder in his homeland, citing legislation providing for the removal of wanted foreign nationals. READ  

Italy adopts plan to shift into internet fast lane
Italy's government adopted a €6 billion plan on Tuesday to modernize its internet network. Photo: Internet photo: Shutterstock

Italy adopts plan to shift into internet fast lane

Italy's government adopted a €6 billion plan on Tuesday to modernize its internet network and improve access to broadband in hopes of shedding its reputation as one of Europe's online laggards. READ  

Italy to nationalize Ilva steel plant
The Ilva site in Taranto, in the Puglia region of southern Italy, employs over 14,000 people. Photo: Donato Fasano/AFP

Italy to nationalize Ilva steel plant

Italy's parliament approved on Tuesday a government decree temporarily nationalizing the country's loss-making Ilva steel plant, one of the most polluting in Europe, in the hope of finding a new owner. READ  

Spain outstrips Italy and France in wine exports
Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia enjoy some cava on a visit to a Spanish vineyard. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Spain outstrips Italy and France in wine exports

Spain is the biggest exporter of wine in the world, beating Italy and France, according to the latest figures from the Spanish wine market observatory. READ  

Italy to join Ukraine crisis call with Obama
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will join a call with US President President Barack Obama and other European leaders about the Ukraine crisis and other "global security issues". Photo: Tiziana Fab

Italy to join Ukraine crisis call with Obama

President Barack Obama will hold a secure video conference with European leaders to discuss the crisis in Ukraine on Tuesday, as Russia faces possible further sanctions for its role in the conflict. READ  

Video
'Blind' claimant caught using smartphone
One of the suspects was seen driving a car and even using a touch-screen mobile phone. Screengrab: Pupia Crime/YouTube

'Blind' claimant caught using smartphone

Two people claiming a total of €120,000 in disability benefits for total blindness have been arrested in southern Italy after they were spotted engaging in normal activities such as driving, using a touch screen phone and moving around without assistance. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sport
Purrfect catch: Italian twins land giant catfish
National
VIDEO: Massive sinkhole opens up in Naples
Culture
Italians 'don't love' their language
National
In pictures: Italians mock Isis on Twitter
Opinion
Could Isis terrorists really invade Italy?
International
EU to increase migrant aid to Italy
National
Lampedusa: Tiny Italian island swamped by migrant tide
Culture
Italy sells off Mussolini buildings to raise cash
National
Italians are Europe's most reckless drivers
National
Why flirty Italians still don't do online dating
Gallery
Top 10: the most romantic places to propose in Italy
National
Top 10: your favourite Italian words
International
Bond meets Snowden: The HSBC whistleblower
Education
Ten common mistakes Italians make in English
National
What makes life in Bolzano so good?
National
Swiss town's ploy against workers living in Italy 'not racist'
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Travel
How the weak euro is boosting tourism to Italy
Politics
Italy sends mixed signals on Greek debt
National
Top 10 delightfully irrational Italian superstitions
Politics
Sergio Mattarella: Sicilian 'man of the law'
National
10 Italian words used differently in English
National
26-year jail term sought for Concordia captain
Vatican
What did you think of the Pope's rabbit rant?
Culture
Italy seizes more than 5,000 looted artefacts
International
How can an American get Italian citizenship?
Travel
Italian hotel named best in world for families
Culture
Top 15 English words reinvented by Italians
Culture
Top 10: The best Italian inventions
Politics
Deputy Senate chief in Syria hostage sex row
National
A portrait of modern Italy in 10 stats
National
Muslims in Italy react to new Charlie Hebdo
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Culture
Rome's Trevi pays tribute to late La Dolce Vita star
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects across Europe
National
Should Italy spy more after the Paris attack?
National
Italy moves to widen smoking ban
National
New mosque ban in Padua after Paris attacks
Business & Money
Italy banks on a future with foreign investors
National
Sicily bridge collapses within days of opening
Business & Money
Italy's luxury brands defy economic crisis
International
Why migrant smugglers are using 'ghost ships'
National
The Local's aspirations for Italy in 2015
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

1,010
jobs available