The latest racist attack against Italy’s first black minister, in which bananas were hurled at her during a rally, sparked outrage across the political spectrum on Saturday.
Italian Immigration Minister Cecile Kyenge was speaking at a Democratic Party (PD) rally on Friday when an unidentified spectator threw bananas at her, missing the stage, but sparking reactions of disgust nationwide.
Shocking cases of abuse have multiplied against Kyenge, an Italian citizen born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, climaxing earlier this month with a member of the anti-immigration Northern League party who likened her to an orangutan.
Kyenge, who has refused to rise to the bait or write Italy off as racist, immediately reacted to the banana attack by slamming it as “a waste of food.”
Social networks lit up with reactions, and ministers and political bigs took to Twitter to voice their anger and support for Kyenge.
Italian Minister of the Environment Andrea Orlando expressed “utter indignation for the wretched act,” while Italian Minister of Agriculture Nunzia De Girolamo said “Kyenge has shown that faced with idiotic and violent acts, sometimes the best weapon is irony.”
At a rally for the Left Ecology and Freedom party on Saturday, where she was received with warm applause, Kyenge said she was “proud to be Italian.”
“I do not believe the problem lies with me. There are some people who are not happy, who are showing their discontent, and it is my job to listen to that discontent,” she told journalists. “I have to draw out the better side of Italy.”
Tensions were running high even before the banana incident, after members of the country’s right-wing Forza Nuova association left life-size dolls doused in fake blood at the rally.
The group was protesting over Kyenge’s campaign to help children born in Italy to foreign parents obtain citizenship more easily.