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Northern League leaders blast 'voodoo ritual' in Congo

Interview with Minister Kyenge's father fuels political tension

25 September, 15:11
Northern League leaders blast 'voodoo ritual' in Congo (ANSA) - Milan, September 25 - Prominent members of Italy's anti-immigrant Northern League party on Wednesday blasted a purification ritual reportedly conducted in the Congo - Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge's country of origin - to rid Northern League Senator Roberto Calderoli of evil spirits.

Calderoli likened Kyenge to an orangutan in a public gathering last June, sparking calls for his resignation but also a long string of racist attacks, sometimes with violent references, against Kyenge from leaders or members of his party.

Kyenge has called on the leadership of the Northern League to halt to the attacks.

The Congo ritual was mentioned in the Italian tabloid Oggi, which published an interview with Kyenge's father. "This is Minister Kyenge's culture of origin. Exorcisms are all right in the Congo and in the hut, but I hope it is not the future of Italy," said Matteo Salvini, deputy secretary of the Northern League on the margins of a conference in Milan.

"The voodoo-type ritual celebrated in Congo by Kyenge-popes dressed as chief sorcerer by her community officially to eradicate evil spirits from the body of League Senator Calderoli - but whose true magical ends are unknown - is to say the least worrying," said Mario Borghezio, a Northern League MEP.

"If I were my friend Roberto, a little thought to a (Catholic) exorcist, or at least a good counter-blessing," quipped Borghezio.

Kyenge responded on Wednesday that she learned of the ceremony reading the magazine interview.

"I wasn't at that ceremony. I read about these things like all of you," she said.

The article shows a picture of people identified as Kyenge's family who appear to perform a ritual with the photo of Calderoli. Kyenge has confirmed that her father appears in the photo.

(photo: Matteo Salvini, deputy secretary of the Northern League)