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League councillor calls for Kyenge rape

Italy's first black minister endures abuse

13 June, 18:50
League councillor calls for Kyenge rape

(By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) - Padua, June 13 - A local councillor on Thursday became the latest member of the anti-immigrant Northern League to attack Italy's first black cabinet member by calling for Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge to be raped. "(Why) doesn't anyone ever rape her in order (for her) to understand what the victim of this heinous crime feels?" Dolores Valandro, a councillor for a Padua district, said on her Facebook page under a photo of Kyenge.

Valandro, who was suspended by the League recently over internal disputes, was commenting on an article on a website about an alleged rape by an African man of an Italian woman.

Kyenge said the remarks did not merit a response. "I won't answer because each of us should feel offended," she said. "This type of talk instigates violence against all citizens. "Everyone should feel offended, not just me".

Massimo Bitonci, the League's whip in the Senate, condemned the "violent, stupid" comments, said he would take disciplinary action against Valandro and added that he had told her to remove the remarks from her Facebook profile and apologise. The head of the party later announced Valandro would be expelled from the party for her remarks. "I don't know this councillor. I spoke with (the regional party head) who said she'll be kicked out," said Roberto Maroni, who is also the governor of the northern Lombardy region. Several Northern League members have made offensive comments about Kyenge since she was sworn in as part of Premier Enrico Letta's left-right government in April.

Kyenge, a 48-year-old doctor who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, moved to Italy three decades ago to study medicine.

Her appointment prompted a series of ethnic slurs from Mario Borghezio, a member of the Northern League in the European Parliament, who claimed Kyenge would "impose her tribal traditions from the Congo" on Italy.

He later apologized, but the EFD Eurosceptics group in the European Parliament kicked him out for his comments nevertheless. The League's second-in-command, Matteo Salvini, has attacked Kyenge several times since her swearing-in, saying that "having a former illegal immigrant as a minister can only happen in Italy, and it's making a laughing stock of us". The League lobbies for greater autonomy for Italy's wealthier northern regions and frequently adopts extreme stances on migration issues.