Kyenge Warns Against Spreading Populism

Italy’s first black minister Cecile Kyenge, who has been deluged with racist slurs since her appointment in April, urged Europe’s leaders on Wednesday not to spread populism or use it to win votes.

Cecile Kyenge became integration minister in April. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

“There has a been a rise in episodes of racism in many countries, probably linked to the economic crisis but also to a lack of knowledge about what European values really stand for,” Kyenge said at a press conference.

The minister called for “political leaders to use their words in an instructive fashion, not simply to spread populism or use it to attract votes”.

Kyenge said an accord to fight racism, signed in the Italian capital by top European officials in September, will be rolled out as an official 2014-2020 pact in January, ahead of the European elections in May 2014.

Over 23 European nations have already signed up to the so-called “Rome Declaration”.

The attacks against Congolese-born Kyenge have ranged from a senior member of the far-right Northern League party likening her to an orangutan, to having bananas thrown at her and being threatened with nooses.

– The Local