Anti-racists gather to support Cécile Kyenge MEP


Press release: Immediate

Contact OBV press office: 

020 8983 5430 / 020 8983 5444 / 07920057237 / 07584 177 529

The Italian MEP of African descent Cécile Kyenge will speak at a House of Commons rally tomorrow at 12 noon to address black leaders and activists about her plight against racist elements in Italy. The event will also discuss the rise of racism and political extremism in Europe, and the need for progressive and BME people to stand together in solidarity.

Ms. Kyenge is being sued by the Italian political party - The Northern League - who are in the country’s coalition government. Ms. Kyenge has faced intolerable racial abuse from party members including one of its most senior politicians who, in a speech in the Italian Parliament likened her to a monkey. Confronting such abuse, she labelled the Northern League a racist party. For this, she is being sued for defamation.

The event at 12 pm in the Boothroyd Room in Westminster’s Portcullis House (opposite Parliament) is organised by Operation Black Vote. Women in support of Cécile Kyenge will include speakers Rt. Hon Diane Abbott MP, Helen Grant MP, Jean Lambert MEP, journalist Afua Hirsch, Zita Holbourne, co-founder of Barac. Lee Jasper, Chair of the London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium, and Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote will be support speakers.

Cécile Kyenge MEP said:
"From my appointment as a Minister to my present role as an MEP I have suffered racist attacks every day. I don't consider these to be attacks on me personally but rather attacks on the institution that I represent. At the same time, it is a major experience. This difficult part of my life is always in my mind. My goal is always the same - to support others. In return, I am grateful that OBV can support me by highlighting at this rally today these issues, and bringing together the solidarity of anti-racists, black minority ethnic communities and progressive political movements."

Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Home Secretary
“I had the privilege of meeting Cecile Kyenge recently and found her an inspiration. In her role as an MEP, she has to deal with misogyny, racist attacks and intimidation on a daily basis, something I know unfortunatelyknow all about. In a climate where the far-right are increasing across Europe, including Italy, it is important that we support and show solidarity to anti-racists, BAME communities and progressive political movements across Europe.”

Simon Woolley, of event organisers, Operation Black Vote said:
“It is with equal pleasure and outrage that we invite you to this rally in support of the Italian MEP Cécile Kyenge for her courage to stand up against racism, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance. This attack on Ms. Kyenge is not just a shocking attack against her, but all of us too.”


Notes for editor:

1) OBV is non-partisan political campaigning organisation.

2) OBV exists to ensure we have greater racial justice and equality throughout the UK.

3) Please note that there is a press room, and all speakers are available to the media.