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Boldrini holds 'lunch of solidarity' with Kyenge

Northern League says changes to immigration laws pose a threat

22 January, 17:00
Boldrini holds 'lunch of solidarity' with Kyenge (See related) (ANSA) - Rome, January 22 - Lower House Speaker Laura Boldrini invited Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge to a "lunch of solidarity" Wednesday to show support to Italy's first black cabinet minister in the face a lengthy stream of vicious personal and racist attacks.

The invitation also came as the anti-immigrant Northern League complained that the decriminalization of illegal immigration - approved in the Senate Tuesday and spearheaded by Kyenge - was dangerous.

Since Kyenge's appointment to cabinet in April 2013, the League has been behind some of the most egregious insults to the Congo-born Kyenge.

It has been accused of racism and intimidation after its members targeted her, including a senior party figure comparing her to an orangutan, and its newspaper La Padania published her daily schedule.

During a rally last August in Cervia, someone threw a banana at Kyenge, while mannequins covered in red paint to simulate blood along with racist messages were found in town.

In other cases, slurs and even death threats have been posted on Facebook about her.

Boldrini said she organized the lunch "to demonstrate to Minister Kyenge my closeness and also that of the House" in the face of ongoing insults and attacks against Kyenge.

She added that it was "unacceptable for a democratic country to have representatives of local but also national institutions insult a minister for the color of her skin.

"We should all feel uncomfortable".

The League accused Kyenge of incompetence. "We express our solidarity with all victims of crimes committed by...illegal immigrants, especially in the North," said Massimo Bironci, the League's Senate whip.