Bananas thrown at black Italian minister

Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge has condemned the incident, calling it a "waste of food."

Italy’s Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge. Picture: AFP

ROME - Italy's first black minister, a target of racist slurs since her appointment in April, has condemned a spectator who threw bananas towards her while she was making a speech at a party rally.

Integration minister Cecile Kyenge, who was born in Democratic Republic of Congo, has angered far-right groups with her campaign to make it easier for immigrants to gain Italian citizenship.

Shortly before the incident on Friday, members of the right-wing Forza Nuova group left mannequins covered in fake blood at the site of the rally in Cervia, central Italy, in protest against Kyenge's proposal to make anyone born on Italian soil a citizen.

"Immigration kills," was written on leaflets accompanying the dummies, a slogan Forza Nuova has previously used when referring to murders committed by immigrants in Italy.

Although the bananas missed the stage where Kyenge was speaking, she responded to the gesture on Twitter, calling it "sad" and a waste of food, considering the economic crisis.

"The courage and optimism to change things has to come above all from the bottom up to reach the institutions," she added.

Kyenge has faced regular insults since becoming minister, often from other politicians. Earlier this month a senior parliamentarian in the anti-immigration Northern League party likened her to an orangutan and only apologised after a storm of criticism.

In a seperate incident reported by Reuters this week, Italy's football federation (FIGC) has opened an investigation into alleged racist chanting after AC Milan midfielder Kevin Constant fired a ball into the stands and walked off the pitch in protest during a match on Tuesday.

The walkout by the French-born Guinean player, during a pre-season tournament match against Sassuolo in the northern city of Reggio Emilia, comes just months after a similar incident involving AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Boateng led the team off the pitch during a friendly in January in protest at racist chanting by the lower division side Pro Patria's home fans.