Rome

Senate complains of online threats on employees

Quotes post inviting people to kill parliament employees

Senate complains of online threats on employees

Rome, July 25 - The Italian Senate has requested police intervention over a threatening Internet smear campaign against parliament employees. "The Senate of the republic has reported to the competent authorities to verify who are responsible for intimidating and threatening statements that break the limits of freedom of opinion," a statement from the Senate said Thursday. "The ongoing online defamatory campaign against parliament employees has assumed an unacceptable tone. Expressions like, 'If you kill a House or Senate employee, you contribute to savings and the budget. They are all relatives and blood-relatives, worse than the Egyptians,' have appeared on a number of social network pages, and help foster a climate of hatred based on false information, by the way, and that has nothing to do with the reality of those who work everyday in government offices," the statement. "The Senate of the republic will pursue every action to protect the dignity of its own employees, against whom there has been an ongoing campaign, for some time, at levels unacceptable in a civil context". The announcement marks the latest in a series of hate attacks, online and off, targeting public employees, parliament members or current ministers. The Rome prosecutor's office opened a probe in early May into the mountain of Internet-based threats directed at Italian House Speaker Laura Boldrini as well as grotesque, graphic photomontages that have accompanied some of the threats. Congolese-born Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge - Italy's first black minister - has suffered numerous racist attacks by members of the anti-immigrant party the Northern League, at least two of which have resulted in legal proceedings. This month a Northern League local councillor was expelled from her party, received a 13-month suspended sentence and was barred from public office for three years after an online post suggesting Kyenge should be raped. A Padua court convicted Dolores Valandro of inciting sexual violence for racial reasons after posting a comment on Facebook under a photo of Kyenge saying, "(Why) doesn't anyone ever rape her in order (for her) to understand what the victim of this heinous crime feels like?" Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli is being probed for defamation by the court of Bergamo for saying Kyenge reminded him of an orangutan at a Northern League rally in the northern Italian town. The Senator has so far ignored pressure for him to step down. In addition, disaffection with public employees at the Senate and House is particularly high following a recent broadcast of Italian television show Le Iene showing workers taking extended breaks while collecting generous paychecks.

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