Italian Senator Roberto Calderoli Likens Black Minister to Orangutan

Roberto Calderoli

If you thought right-wing American politicians were bad, meet Italian Senator Roberto Calderoli.

Roberto Calderoli, vice president of the Senate and leader of the right-wing, anti-immigration Northern League party, compared the country’s first black minister, Cecile Kyenge, to an orangutan.

“I love animals – bears and wolves, as everyone knows – but when I see the pictures of Kyenge I cannot but think of, even if I’m not saying she is one, the features of an orangutan.” Calderoli said at a political rally Saturday.

Well, at least he’s smart enough to know she isn’t actually an orangutan. In fact, Kyenge is pretty far from an orangutan. The current immigration minister is Italy’s first-ever black cabinet minister and also an eye surgeon. Kyenge has Italian citizenship but was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo before she moved to Italy in 1983.

But it’s Cecile Kyenge’s success that also has Roberto Calderoli all riled up. He said the success of Kyenge encouraged “illegal immigrants” to come to Italy, and she should be a minister “in her own country”. He was also quoted as saying she “makes so many clandestine migrants who come here dream” that they will find “America” in Italy.

After receiving some heat from politicians and local media over his remarks, Calderoli initially gave a half-assed apology:

 “I did not mean to offend and if minister Kyenge was offended I am sorry, but my comment was made within a much broader political speech that criticized the minister and her policies,” he said.

But after extensive international condemnation, Calderoli was pressured into calling Kyenge to apologize directly – which she accepted.

“I accept the apology,” Kyenge said. ” “I don’t want to address Calderoli the person, but as a representative of an institution: reflect on what you want to represent through your language.”

“I do not take Calderoli’s words as a personal insult but they sadden me because of the image they give of Italy.”

This isn’t the first time Kyenge has had to deal with racial slurs. Since becoming the immigration minister in April, another Northern League politician accused her of wanting to to impose “tribal traditions” on Italians and a local politician suggested on Facebook that someone should rape Kyenge so that she “can understand what victims of atrocious crimes feel”. Both politicians were expelled and many are now calling for Roberto Calderoli to resign. However, if Silvio Berlusconi can be voted in as the Prime Minister of Italy on three separate occasions, there’s still hope for anyone! Literally anyone.

Via: The Independent

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