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Calderoli says orangutan insult born from 'love for animals'

Firestorm against Senator after latest anti-Kyenge slur

15 July, 12:13
Calderoli says orangutan insult born from 'love for animals'

(ANSA) - Rome, July 15 - Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli said on Monday that comments about Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge that have been slammed as the umpteenth racist insult by anti-immigration Northern League members were born from his "love for animals".

The Northern League heavyweight told the Italian daily paper Il Corriere della Sera that his comparison of the Congolese-born minister to an orangutan he made over the weekend was "an aesthetic judgment, not meant to be racist".

Calderoli said while speaking at town festival in Carroccio a Treviglio near his home city of Bergamo that "when I see her (Kyenge's) pictures, I can't help but think of her resemblance to an orangutan".

Premier Enrico Letta called Calderoli's comments "unacceptable...beyond every limit," and expressed his support of Kyenge.

After Calderoli phoned Kyenge to apologize, Lombardy Governor and Northern League leader Roberto Maroni said that the Senator had "done well to do so," but that the comments had been fueled by "immigration policies proposed by Kyenge that are not only wrong, they contribute to the uncontrollable influx of immigration" into Italy.