About 6 weeks ago, I wrote how a petition presented to the European Parliament led to the expulsion of Northern League MEP Mario Borghezio. Borghezio sparked outrage for his racist remarks about Italy’s first black Minister, Cecile Kyenge.
On Saturday, Kyenge was insulted by another Northern League leader, vice-president of the Senate Roberto Calderoli (I have already mentioned Calderoli a few times, as he is the author of the “Porcellum”, Italy’s much criticised electoral system).
Roberto Calderoli Cecile Kyenge
Senator Calderoli, speaking at a political rally in Treviglio, claimed: “I love animals- bears and wolves as it is well-known- but when I see images of Kyenge I cannot help think, even though I’m not saying that she is one, of the resemblance to an orang-utan”.
He added that she should be a Minister but in her own country (Kyenge is originally from Congo, but has been an Italian citizen for several years), and that she makes many clandestine immigrants coming to Italy dream about “America”.
Reactions from all political parties shortly followed, all condemning Calderoli’s statement. Even President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano said he was “indignant”.
Some members of the Democratic Party, including leader Epifani, called for Calderoli’s resignation.
Calderoli then tried to justify himself by claiming that his remarks were “just a bad joke”, and he apologised to Kyenge over the phone. She accepted his apology, but she also said that the matter remains unsolved on the institutional level.
Just like Borghezio, Calderoli has been known for his racist attitude for a while now. For instance, in 2006 he wore a t-shirt with the infamous Muhammad cartoons, causing some protesters in Lybia to attack the Italian Embassy. In 2007, to show his opposition to the building of a mosque in Bologna, he brought a pig to the designated site. And many more. Just google his name for plenty of appalling anecdotes.
There is now an on-going petition addressed to the President of the Senate, Pietro Grasso, asking him to have a vote over Calderoli’s resignation. Here’s the link: http://www.change.org/it/petizioni/presidente-del-senato-pietro-grasso-dimissioni-di-calderoli-iostoconcecilekyenge