Opportunities minister calls for action plan against racism

Government asked to make diversity a high priority

Opportunities minister calls for action plan against racism

Rome, June 5 - The Italian government must make it a top priority to develop a national program to combat the "odious phenomenon" of racism, Equal Opportunities Minister Josefa Idem said Wednesday. "I think a priority, in agreement with the Minister for Integration Cecile Kyenge, is the processing and implementation of a National Plan of Action against racism, xenophobia and related intolerance," said Idem. The plan should be implemented over three years, beginning immediately, and include "the systematic application of the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination," in compliance with United Nations standards on human rights. The issue of racism has been making headlines recently in Italy, particularly since the cabinet appointment in April of the Congo-born Kyenge. As the country's first black cabinet minister, Kyenge has suffered racist attacks from the anti-immigrant Northern League and anonymous bigots but she has also taken the opportunity to make a prominent stand against racism. Black soccer players, such as Milan star Mario Balotelli, have also been standing up against racial slurs and pushing back against bigoted fans.

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