London: An Italian senator has sparked outrage after he compared the country`s first black government minister to an orangutan.
Cecile Kyenge, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but has Italian citizenship, has faced repeated racial slurs since being appointed minister for integration in April.
Roberto Calderoli, a former minister under Silvio Berlusconi and senate vice-president of the Northern League, told a rally that Kyenge would be better off working as a minister `in her country`.
According to the Guardian, Calderolli said that he loved animal, bears and wolves, but when he saw the pictures of Kyenge he could think of the features of an orangutan.
Prime minister, Enrico Letta, condemned the comments as being `unacceptable and `beyond every limit`.
The remark also provoked outrage from other politicians in the country, especially in Kyenge`s centre-left Democratic Party.
Asked about the comments, Kyenge said she did not take Calderoli`s words as a personal insult but they sadden her because of the image they give of Italy.
Asked on Sunday to explain the slur, Calderoli insisted he had been joking, and did not want to cause offence and apologized for his remarks.