Anti-immigrant paper under fire for Kyenge agenda

AP News
Posted: Jan 14, 2014 3:49 PM

ROME (AP) — The newspaper of Italy's anti-immigrant Northern League party has come under fire for a new feature listing the daily whereabouts of the country's first black Cabinet minister.

The "Here's Cecile Kyenge" feature was launched days after the Congolese-born Kyenge was once again heckled during a weekend appearance in Brescia by Northern League and other right-wing extremists. Northern League leaders have called for new protests at a Kyenge event this weekend.

Ever since her appointment in April, Kyenge has faced racist taunts from Northern League politicians and activists. She has earned the League's wrath by promising to change Italy's restrictive immigration and citizenship policies and arguing that immigrants are a resource that Italy needs and not a security threat or burden.

On Tuesday, lawmakers from Kyenge's Democratic Party and other center-left politicians called the new feature in the La Padania daily an act of intimidation and demanded it be discontinued.

"Can someone tell the racists that we're in the Third Millennium and are a civil country, despite them," tweeted Nichi Vendola, head of the left-wing SEL party and the president of Italy's Puglia region. "The racists think they're in Alabama or Mississippi of a half-century ago or in South Africa during apartheid."

La Padania's editor defended the feature, saying the information of Kyenge's whereabouts was public anyway and that the newspaper, not Kyenge, was on the receiving end of intimidation from the likes of the center-left.