Police search for weapons after man threatens minister

Politicians denounce rivals for racist Facebook posts

Police search for weapons after man threatens minister

Rome, July 29 - Police said Monday they were investigating a man who threatened violence against Italy's first black cabinet minister while regional politicians moved swiftly to denounce racist remarks and Facebook postings by their rivals. Police searched the home of a 61-year-old man in Verona but found no weapons after the man threatened violence against Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge. Despite the steady barrage of insults Kyenge has faced, she is winning the battle against racism, claimed Lower House Speaker Laura Boldrini. "The insults do not distract Minister Kyenge from the cultural battle that she is winning," said Boldrini. The attacks and racial slurs have "outraged many citizens and raised concern about the racist feelings (expressed by certain national leaders)". In some of the latest attacks against Kyenge, mannequins smeared with blood-red paint and anti-immigrant messages were found in the town of Cervia just as she arrived there for political meetings on Friday. Later, during her speech, someone in the audience threw a banana, a likely reference to comments by a Senator from the anti-immigration Northern League who compared her to an orangutan. That was followed by slurs against Kyenge, some in support of the banana-thrower, posted on the Facebook pages of local politicians in Tuscany and the Veneto region. Boldrini said none of this will stop Kyenge, a member of the governing Democratic Party (PD) who was appointed to cabinet in April. "Every day, the extraordinary reaction of Cecile rises: her competence, her humour, her style are an example to all". Meanwhile, Enrico Rossi, the governor of Tuscany, called for legal action Monday against a councillor from the city of Prato for comments about Kyenge posted on Facebook. He said the comments were not jokes, but incitements to hate crimes. "As an institution, we want to do our part because certain crimes offend the Constitution and also our statutes," said Rossi. And in the Veneto, Giulia Narduolo of the PD denounced Andrea Draghi, a Northern League councillor in Montagnana in the Veneto, for a Facebook photo comparing Kyenge to a cartoon gorilla. Narduolo, who called on local politicians in Montagnana to expel Draghi, said that when she saw the cartoon, "I thought 'here we go again'. "After the insults...the launching of bananas...Cecile Kyenge undergoes another vulgar and boorish act of aggression and after the orangutans and monkeys, is compared to a gorilla," added Narduolo.

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