Italy’s first black minister hit with racist insult

Italy's first black minister hit with racist insult
File photo of Cecile Kyenge: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
An Italian far-right group unfurled a racist banner against Congolese-born Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, who is Italy's first black minister, local media reported on Thursday.

"Kyenge, Go Back to Congo" read a banner put up by the group in the central city of Macerata outside an office of the minister's leftist Democratic Party.

The group, Forza Nuova, said in a statement: "You cannot sell off Italian citizenship to elements that are foreign to our culture, just as we cannot force citizens to applaud a multi-racial society."

Kyenge and the Democratic Party have called for children born to immigrants in Italy to be given citizenship — a proposal opposed by its coalition partner, the centre-right People of Freedom party.

Kyenge, 49, an eye doctor, arrived in Italy in 1983 from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"They will not stop me. I want to start a debate and not impose any model," she said on Thursday.

Kyenge has already been a target of insults from far-right groups, as well as lawmakers from the  populist and xenophobic Northern League party.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta and his centre-right deputy Angelino Alfano were forced to defend her saying: "Cecile Kyenge is proud to be black and we are proud to have her in our government."

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