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Updated: May 3, 2013 22:54 IST

Italy’s first black Minister seeks cultural sensitivity

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Cécile Kashetu Kyenge
AP Cécile Kashetu Kyenge

Italy’s first black Cabinet Minister, who has been the target of racist slurs following her appointment last week, says Italians aren’t racist but that some are merely ignorant of other cultures.

Congolese-born Cecile Kashetu Kyenge held a press conference on Friday to introduce herself to Italians so they could get to know her, saying: “I am black. This is important to say. I emphasise it proudly.”

Ms. Kyenge’s appointment as Integration Minister had been hailed as a big step for Italy, which has only recently had to cope with waves of immigration. But the move prompted racist taunts from xenophobic politicians and members of neo-fascist Internet groups.

Ms. Kyenge thanked her defenders. She also stressed that Italy has a long tradition of welcoming foreigners and that that tradition must be upheld.

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