Minister hits back over 'orangutan' slur

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Cecile Kyenge said she receives threats every day. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
10:01 CEST+02:00
Italy's Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge said racisim is a "threat to the country’s international image" in response to a Northern League MP comparing her to an "orangutan". She stopped short, however, of calling for his resignation.

“I insist that we correct the language used: insults like these are doubled, tripled. They become articles in the foreign press which give Italy a negative image,” Kyenge told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

The minister said she wants to work with Italians across society - not only migrants - to enhance the country’s image. “This is a moment to stop and reflect together on the image of Italy tomorrow."

She would not be drawn on whether she wanted Roberto Calderoli, who made the racist slur over the weekend, to resign.

Kyenge’s fellow members of the Democratic Party (PD) were not so guarded, with politicians Khalid Chaouki and Gianni Cuperlo yesterday calling for the Northern League party member to go.

Kyenge told Corriere that she continues to receive daily threats, the “most terrible” being online death threats.

“The other day I was taking part in a private Catholic ceremony and there was someone waiting for me who threatened me...I must always be on the alert,” she said.

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“Thankfully there are always more people close to me, who show me solidarity,” she said.

Calderoli is not the first politician to openly attack the minister. Last month Northern League MEP Mario Borghezio was kicked out of the European Parliament’s Europe of Freedom and Democracy group for his offensive comments, while a councillor from the same party sparked outrage when she called for Kyenge to be raped.

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