Far right slams minister's 'racial immunity'

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Cecile Kyenge's agenda was published by the Northern League party's newspaper. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
12:34 CET+01:00
The editor of the Northern League party newspaper has claimed Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge enjoys "racial immunity", in response to criticism after the agenda of Italy's first black minister was published by the paper.

La Padania published the minister’s agenda on Monday under the heading “Here's Cecile Kyenge”, prompting a backlash from the politician’s Democratic Party (PD) colleagues who argued the move was intended to intimidate the minister.

The publication reached “the limit of intimidation”, PD Senators Mauro Del Barba and Roberto Cociancich were quoted in La Repubblica as saying.

Their comment comes days after far-right supporters heckled Kyenge during her visit to Brescia, in northern Italy, and ahead of a protest against the minister, AP reported.

The minister, who last year faced protests involving bloody mannequins and nooses during visits to towns in Italy, has previously said she receives death threats and is protected by bodyguards.

But the Northern League’s federal secretary, Matteo Salvini, defended the move. “La Padania only divulged news published by Minister Kyenge, news that moreover is only available on her website,” he said in a statement published by the party newspaper.

“The principle is clear: to criticize we must know. And to know, it is always better to go directly to the source,” he added.

The Northern League campaigns on an anti-immigrant platform and has been a vocal critic of Kyenge’s plans to reform Italy’s citizenship law which would give more rights to the children of immigrants.

Aurora Lussana, editor of the party newspaper, slammed her critics and said as a black minister Kyenge enjoyed “racial immunity”.

“Our newspaper deals with immigration and its politics every day; there is a lot of attention on this ministry [led by Kyenge].

“We are a little newspaper of the opposition and she is a powerful woman from the government that all the media celebrate like a saint: basking in some sort of racial immunity,” Lussana said.

Since becoming integration minister in April 2013, Kyenge has been the victim of a number of racist insults.

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In July last year Roberto Calderoli, the Northern League’s deputy speaker in the Senate, compared her to an orangutan. The minister also had a banana thrown at her during a party rally, while in October a Northern League politician posted a doctored photo on Facebook appearing to be Kyenge with the head of a monkey.

In August Kyenge boycotted a Northern League conference, after she said the party leader had failed to stop attacks against her.

READ MORE: Minister boycotts meeting over racism

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