Italy's first black minister Cécile Kyenge likened to a prostitute in latest public insult

Deputy mayor of northern Diano Marina apologises after making the offensive comments on his public Facebook profile

Italy’s first black cabinet minister Cécile Kyenge has been likened to a prostitute in the latest personal attack directed at her by a public figure.

Cristiano Za Garibaldi, the deputy mayor of the town of Diano Marina in the northern region of Liguria, implied in a post on his public Facebook profile that Ms Kyenge frequented a road in the area infamous for being used by prostitutes, many of whom are black.

Local media outlets picked up on the comments, and Mr Za Garibaldi was quick to back-pedal and apologise, putting the insult down to “a stressful couple of months” in which he was struggling to pay his taxes.

In a post on Sunday he wrote: “I was wrong, I admit it and apologise. The statement… against the Minister Kyenge was in bad taste and offensive.”

Yet far from keeping his head down in the media spotlight that followed, Mr Za Garibaldi was back on Facebook on Monday, posting a series of statistics about immigration in Italy and writing that “it has become a social and economic problem”.

Ms Kyenge, 48, was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but moved to Italy 30 years ago. She became the country’s first black cabinet member in April when she was appointed as Immigration Minister by Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

She has been no stranger to very insulting, and very public, comments since then, but she has remained stoic in attributing such attitudes to conservative groups struggling to come to terms with 20 years of immigration and an increasingly multicultural society, rather than taking personal offence.

The latest comments came as a reaction to her suggesting a policy whereby second homes could be rented out to homeless people.

In July, a member of the public threw a banana at her while she was speaking at a political rally in central Italy. That same month, right-wing Northern League leader and Senator Roberto Calderoli compared Ms Kyenge to an orangutan.

And in June, a female politician was forced to resign for suggesting on Facebook that someone should rape Kyenge so she “can understand what victims of atrocious crimes feel”.

While one of Italy’s leading dailies, La Repubblica, commented that it felt like attacking Ms Kyenge had become “a national sport”, the Minister herself was quoted by the Guardian as saying: “This is the umpteenth episode in a constant attack that is not only targeted at me, but anyone in this country who dares to think differently.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas