Cecile Kyenge, Italy’s first black cabinet member, was the target of an inflammatory remark on Facebook this week.
Dolores Valandro, a member of the right-leaning Northern League party, called for the rape of Kyenge so she would “understand” what the victim of a recent attempted rape in Genoa felt like. Party secretary Flavio Tosi responded to Valandro’s remark, revealing that she had already been suspended for another issue but would be expelled Thursday, L’Huffington Post reports.
Since taking office in April, Kyenge has been a constant target of sexist and racist remarks. Though the 48-year-old’s appointment to the cabinet as the minister of integration was seen as a big step forward for the country, members of the characteristically anti-immigrant Northern League party, as well as neofacist groups, have repeatedly insulted her because of her race.
Kyenge has dismissed such disparaging comments, stating that she is proud to say she is black and that she doesn’t believe in giving up in the face of obstacles, according to Reuters.
She also addressed Valandro’s statement this week, labeling the words “violent language.”
“I don’t want to respond to this violent language because each and everyone of us should feel offended,” Kyenge said during a meeting in Rome, according to La Repubblica. “I speak with a lot of people, and everyone of them have a different way of thinking, everyone can have their own ideology. But I don’t allow anyone to dictate a violent language and behavior.”
For her part, Valandro apologized for her Facebook post (which has since been taken down) and attempted to explain the remark, calling it a “joke.”
“It was a joke in a moment of anger, I apologize. I don’t think when I’m angry. It’s my way to vent. In reality, I am sweeter than candy,” she saidduring an interview with Italy’s Radio Capital.
This is not the first time incendiary remarks against Kyenge have resulted in the expulsion of a Northern League party member from a political group. As the Agence France-Presse notes, earlier this month, Northern League member Mario Borghezio was bootedfrom the European Parliament’s Eurosceptic group after he made several racist comments toward Kyenge.
The Huffington Post