Orangutan Remark: Italian Senator Compares Black Minister to Ape

Monday, 15 Jul 2013 06:27 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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An Italian senator who compared the country’s first black minister to an orangutan is being sharply criticized not just by politicians but throughout social media.

Sen. Roberto Calderoli apparently made the comment about Cecile Kyange at a party meeting, saying, “I love animals ... but when I see pictures of Kyenge, I cannot help thinking of similarities with an orangutan,” Fox News reported in an AFP story.

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AFP reported that Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta called the comment “unacceptable.”

Some Italian politicians demanded Calderoli’s resignation.

The senator is a member of the Northern League, and he’s not a stranger to trouble brought about by his opinions. He was removed from the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2006 when he wore a negative T-shirt about Mohammed, the article said.

Kyenge has come under constant attack, even getting death threats, since she took the position as integration minister this year. The Northern League has been especially hostile, Fox News reported.

Shock at Calderoli’s statement put Twitter users to work, even criticizing his apology.

In a Guardian article by John Foot titled "Why Ignorant Racists Still Flourish in Multi-Cultural Italy," Foot, who began living in Italy in 1988, said you could “compile an encyclopedia of the League’s racist comments and activities.” He cited an example of a city mayor who said “immigrants should be dressed as animals and hunted down.”

Kyange, an ophthalmologist, married an Italian man and has two children. She has said she will reform Italy’s citizenship laws, Foot said.

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Related stories:

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Italy Race Problems Seen With Black Government Minister

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