UK pols back Kyenge

Open letter in Guardian promoted by 40 black MPs, councillors

(ANSA) - London, October 12 - Black British Labour MPs on Friday signed a letter of solidarity with Italy's first black minister Ceciel Kyenge, on trial for defaming the anti-migrant League party after one of its members likened her to an orangutan.
    The letter, published by the Guardian, is also signed by members of the German, Swedish, Polish and Belgian Left, but is promoted by some 40 British MPs and local councillors of Afro-Caribbean origin including Shadow Interior Minister Dianne Abbott, a close ally of leader Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Treasury Minister Clive Lewsi, and leading black MPs including David Lammy and the anti-Corbynite Chuka Umunna.
    The letter denounces the "intimidation" of Kyenge by League politicians and supporters and voices "full support" for the former integration minister in her "fight against racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance". Centre-left opposition Democratic Party (PD) MEP Kyenge went on trial September 14 for calling the League racist.
    The trial of Kyenge, once likened to an orangutan by a League heavyweight, is the result of a libel suit filed by League leader Matteo Salvini.
    During a PD supporters' yearly get-together in Parma, Kyenge said the League was a "racist" party.
    The League, while pursuing a crackdown on migrants, has always denied it is racist.
    Sending her to trial in January, preliminary investigations judge Stefania Di Rienzo said Kyenge had implicitly compared the League to the Nazis.
    Kyenge has been the target of League abuse for years.
    In November 2013 Northern League Senator and former minister Roberto Calderoli was charged with defamation aggravated by racial discrimination after he compared Kyenge to an orangutan.
    He was saved from trial when parliament upheld his immunity.
    That remark by Calderoli was one of the first and probably the worst, but not the only such slur against the eye doctor.
    Last year, when the League was still called the Northern League, MEP Mario Borghezio was ordered to pay the Congo-born former integration minister Cecile Kyenge 50,000 euros in compensation for a racist slur.
    "I can't afford it, I'll have to sell my house," commented Borghezio, who has a history of controversial anti-immigrant remarks and actions.
    Borghezio, interviewed on April 29, 2013 after Kyenge's appointment, reportedly said among other things that "Africans are Africans and belong to an ethnic group very different from ours".
    He also complained that Kyenge, who was educated in Italy to become an ophthalmologist, had taken away a health post that he said should have been given to "some Italian doctor".
    In another remark that was not covered by last year's verdict, Borghezio claimed Kyenge would impose her "tribal traditions" from the Congo on Italy.
    "This is a bonga bonga government, they want to change birthright citizenship laws and Kyenge wants to impose her tribal traditions from the Congo," said Borghezio.
    Other politicians with the Northern League have faced legal action for comments against Kyenge.
    Former Senator Ermino Boso, interviewed a few days after Borghezio on May 1, 2013, reportedly said Kyenge should have "stayed home in the Congo".
    Earlier in 2013 Northern League Padua Councillor Dolores Valandro posted on Facebook that someone should rape Kyenge "so she knows what it feels like" in response to a report of an Italian woman who was allegedly raped by an African man.
    Borghezio has a track record of anti-immigrant acts.
    In 2000 he was lampooned on TV for his efforts to clean up, with dusters and spray, trains allegedly used by foreign prostitutes and immigrants.
    Kyenge recalled several episodes of alleged League racism on social media Friday, saying "is the League racist? Judge for yourselves".
    She posted headlines including When Salvini Sang: 'Smell the Stink, the Neapolitans are Coming'; Calderoli: When I See Kyenge I think of an Orangutan; League: Separate Carriages For Non-EU Migrants; and Borghezio: 'Bonga Bonga Government: Kyenge A F**king Bad Choice'.