Brussels

European Parliament speaker slams Northern League MEP

Schulz expresses solidarity with Italian minister Kyenge

European Parliament speaker slams Northern League MEP

Brussels, May 20 - An Italian member of the European Parliament made "unacceptable" racial comments that have brought "shame" on the institution, its speaker said Monday. Martin Schulz blasted Mario Borghezio, who represents Italy's separatist Northern League, for his racial slurs against the country's first black cabinet minister, Cecile Kyenge. Schulz, who spoke during the opening session of the EU parliament, noted that a petition "signed by 130,000 people" has called for sanctions against Borghezio for his remarks. The online petition was launched in early May in Italy to oust or at least sanction Borghezio after he called Premier Enrico Letta's new executive a "bonga bonga government" and claimed Kyenge would seek to "impose her tribal traditions from the Congo". Kyenge, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has risen through the ranks of Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) since she came to Italy in 1983. Meanwhile, Schulz said he has also been "approached by many colleagues" demanding he take action against Borghezio. The case is being further investigated by the EU's Conference of Presidents which is comprised of Schulz and all political group Whips. The Conference may be able to impose penalties, said Schulz, adding that Italian authorities should also consider whether a human rights violation has occurred.

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