Outrage over 'Kyenge' monkey Facebook post

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The post has now been removed. Screengrab: Facebook
17:03 CET+01:00
A member of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party has sparked outrage after a photo of a black politician with the head of a monkey appeared on his Facebook profile, a suspected reference to Italy’s Integration Minister, Cecile Kyenge.

The offensive post appeared on the public Facebook profile of Fabio Rainieri, a former MP and the Northern League’s Regional Secretary for Emilia, Northern Italy, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported on Thursday.

The image, which shows a black minister with the head of a monkey under the caption: “Guess who it is???” has now been removed.

When contacted by the paper, Rainieri denied that the image was directed at anyone in particular.

“It’s not written anywhere, there’s no reference to her. If you say so then I’ll take legal action,” he said.

The former MP even claimed that he had nothing to do with the post: “I didn’t write it, it was whoever manages my Facebook page.”

When asked why he had finally decided to take the post down Ranieri said: “I took it down because I don’t like this kind of thing. Cartoons are fine, but not this kind of thing.”

If the Facebook post does turn out to be linked to the Integration Minister it won’t be the first time the Northern League party has come under fire for inappropriate comments aimed at the minister, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Italy's first black minister.

In July, Kyenge was compared to an orangutan by a leading member of the Northern League, deputy speaker of the Senate Roberto Calderoli, who later claimed he had not intended to be racist.

The minister also had bananas thrown at her during a political rally and one Northern League councillor even called for her to be raped, sparking an outcry and his expulsion from the party.

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In August, Kyenge said she would not attend a conference organized by the Northern League party after a torrent of racist abuse from members of the anti-immigration group.

And later that month, Matteo Salvini, an MEP and member of the Northern League came under fire for saying that Kyenge should “go and be a minister in Egypt”, after she suggested the crisis in Egypt might bring an increase in immigration.

More recently in October a poll conducted by IPR Marketing found that more than a fifth of Italians think that having a black minister is wrong.

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