Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Some of you may recall that earlier this month I wrote about some despicable racist remarks that had been directed, by someone who should have known better, at Italy's Integration Minister Cécile Kyenge.  To be fair to Italy, Senator Calderoli, who uttered the remarks, is now under investigation for defamation but that has not stopped others from insulting the Minister in a similar way.

In Cervia [Ravenna] on Friday - and I can hardly bring myself to write this -  bananas were thrown at Cécile Kyenge at a Democratic Party festival. It is not known who the instigators were but politicians from both Left and Right were quick to express their disgust. Ms Kyenge responded to the incident with dignity, lamenting the waste of food at a time when many people are starving and she has been praised for this, most notably by Maria Carfagna, spokesperson for Mr Berlusconi's Pdl Party in the Lower House. Ms Kyenge also later said that the solidarity shown towards her has made her proud to be Italian.

However, more insults were to come:  Yesterday, when Cécile Kyenge was about to enter the town council chamber in Cantù [Como] at the invitation of the Mayor, two Northern League councillors and a former councillor from their party walked out in protest at her presence.  

Today Ms Kyenge has said that, although the insults and threats will not cause her to resign, she is beginning to fear for the safety of her children. Calling upon Northern League Federal Secretary Roberto Maroni to put a stop to the insults she is receiving from members of his party, she has said that, if the situation continues, she will withdraw from a scheduled debate with Luca Zaia, the Leghista Governor of Veneto [who has also condemned the insults] at the beginning of August. Ms Kyenge also said that politicians with differing views should talk to each other about ideas, not insult each other or indulge in discourteous behaviour of the type exhibited at Cantù.

Italy is bound by EU anti-discrimination directives and, despite its economic problems, remains the fourth largest economy in the organisation. This is hard to believe at times!


Rosaria Williams said...

I have only one comment: che schifo!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Giusto, Rosaria!

Lee said...

Again it proves that some humans, unfortunately, so often resemble lemmings...they don't have a mind of their own...they follow the leader...and in cases like the one you describe, it's despicable behaviour.

It makes me so very ashamed of those amongst us who are so ignorant not to know better; and very angry.

Moggsy said...

It is nasty. I am not making excuses for it, but I think European attitudes to politeness and race are maybe culturally different from the UK and North America.

Some things are less... unacceptable in Europe. We find that a little shocking sometimes.

It seems the same with Soccer, maybe it reflects all over society? I read about some incidents, not just in Italy, but Spain and other places also. I remember incidents on the news, I should bet there are more I didn't. I think maybe feelings run higher and there is less normal restraint in this sport than others where the worst comes out sometimes and there is less willingness to look at it square on? Probably Fans will not agree...

Rowena said...

In Cantù? Shame on those people, and from now on I am "boycotting" that town for good in regards to attending their traditional events and programs. This is really disgusting, pezzi di ...

Jenny Woolf said...

I wonder if she can apply to the court of human rights. She really should not have to put up with this and if the government won't act to stop this sort of behaviour, perhaps she can appeal to a higher judgment. One of the benefits of the EU!

What do you think?

James Higham said...

As you often say to me, Welshcakes, there are two sides to every question.

two Northern League councillors and a former councillor from their party walked out in protest at her presence

Why would they do that? What did she actually do to produce this ire across the nation? The word "racist", trotted out on the slightest pretext, often covers something else going on.

Experience teaches us this.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Lee. Yes, also the psychology of crowd behaviour. Hi, Mogsy. But the UK is part of Europe! I do think, perhaps, that diversity is regarded as a threat here whereas in Britain, for the most part, and despite sensationalist headlines, we do welcome it. Yes,this kind of ugliness has raised its head in Spain and Greece, too. As history has proved time and time again, in times of economic hardship, any easily identifiable community provides a convenient scapegoat.
Hi, Rowena. Yes, disgusting but of course, it is not the whole town. Hi, Jenny. I suppose she could but there are ways to fight it via the Italian system. It is slow but can come up trumps!
James, she has done nothing to provoke this ire. The councillors walked out because they are racist and that's it.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

PS: For those of you who are interested, there is an excellent article on the psychology of all this by Tobias Jones [author of "The Dark Heart of Italy"] in today's Guardian:


Moggsy said...

Welshcakes. I agree the UK is 'counted' as part of Europe physically and maybe even politically.

But it is only some, at most, a part of it culturally. The Napoleonic Code for instance. That is alien and wars were once fought to keep it out of the UK.

Thinking about it wars have been fought to prevent 'ever greater union' that the UK founds unacceptable ^_^

James did make one point... altho it does not actually take from the real point of your post. After all the banana thing seems clearly racist, tho that was not the councillors doing. The Senator was also racist. So I think you made your point.

Did they walk out because of race, or politics, or morals?

Googling it they seem to be claiming they actually walked out over a "policy issue" on her granting citizenship to foreigners.

Why they pick on her instead of the EU is not clear. I don't think everyone is convinced, maybe they should have said they were walking out over policies at the time. It would have been clearer then. ^_^

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Moggsy. Well, as a committed European I would argue that we are culturally much more European than anything else, however much we may deny it. Personally I think it's a pity Napoleon was defeated! I think the reason these councillors and others are so against Kyenge is that she is a woman, black and successful. They just can't stand it!

Moggsy said...

Welshcakes, I am wondering if we are both right.. and wrong about cultural orientations.

I think maybe you see the European (English channel oriented) aspect because you are oriented towards it and know the culture.

I tend to see more the transatlantic orientation having experienced American culture, tho I also have some experience of German, that I rather like.

Do you really think a Napoleonic empire could really have been stable? Even in his lifetime?

I think you are probably right about the councillors.

Whispering Walls said...

How puerile!

Hawkins Family said...

Must agree with Rosaria...che shifo. :(

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Moggsy. Well, I do tenmd to see it from a French - Italian point of view, yes. Re Napoleon, I was being British and ironic. But I do think a bit of gallic influence would have done us good.
Yes, indeed, WW. Agree, Hawkins Family.


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