Originally posted on National Post | News:
ROME – It was hailed as a giant step forward for racial integration in a country that has long been ill at ease with its growing immigrant classes. But Cecile Kyenge’s appointment as Italy’s first black Cabinet minister has instead exposed the nation’s ugly racism problem, a blight that flares regularly on the soccer pitch with racist taunts and in the diatribes of xenophobic politicians — but has now raised its head at the centre of political life.
One politician from a party that not long ago ruled in a coalition derided what he called Italy’s new “bonga bonga government.” On Wednesday, amid increasing revulsion over the reaction, the government authorized an investigation into neo-fascist websites whose members called Kyenge “Congolese monkey” and other epithets.
Kyenge, 48, was born in Congo and moved to Italy three decades ago to study medicine. An eye surgeon, she lives in Modena with her Italian husband and two children. She was active in local centre-left politics before winning a seat in the lower Chamber of Deputies in February elections.