The statue of one of Italy’s most revered journalists, who bought a 12-year-old Eritrean girl to be his wife during Italy’s colonial occupation in the 1930s, is being targeted by protesters – for the second time.
When Eritrean-born journalist Elvira Banotti, who was in the audience during the interview, accused him of rape and violent colonialist behavior, Montanelli argued that there was no rape because girls in Eritrea married at the age of 12.
But Milan’s mayor, Beppe Sala, has refused calls to remove the statue, saying that even though he had seen the video in which Montanelli admitted he had bought the girl, the journalist “was more than that.”
Writing in Corriere della Sera in 2000 in response to a letter from a reader, Montanelli said the girl married an Eritrean after he left, and named her first of three children Indro.
Alberto Malvolti, president of the Montanelli Bassi Foundation, which conserves Montanelli’s legacy, said removing the statue “would be an offense to the memory of the most popular and appreciated Italian journalist of the 20th century, as well as representing an insult to the city of Milan.”