Khaby Lame, the most followed star of TikTok, obtained Italian citizenship | Italy

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Khaby Lame, the Senegalese-born comedian who is the most followed TikTok user in the world, has obtained Italian citizenship.

Lame, 22, has lived in Italy since he was one and said he “always felt Italian”. He received his citizenship at a ceremony in Chivasso, his hometown, near Turin in the northern Piedmont region on Wednesday.

Lame turned to TikTok after losing his job at a factory when Italy went into lockdown at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, attracting nearly 150 million followers so far with his videos in which he pokes fun viral content with his exasperated expression.

He was notified of his citizenship by Italy’s Interior Ministry on June 8, weeks before he overtook US social media star Charli D’Amelio to be crowned the world’s top TikTok user.

Lame, who kept his Senegalese passport, told reporters he felt “very proud” of the citizenship and felt “a great responsibility for the oath I took”.

It comes amid a long-running political debate over whether to grant citizenship at birth to children born in Italy to foreign parents, regardless of their parents’ nationality, bringing Italy into line with other European countries. Currently, children born in Italy to foreign parents can only apply from the age of 18.

The issue, known as Ius Soli (“Right to Soil”), has been a policy priority of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) for years, but reforms to citizenship laws have never succeeded to get a vote in parliament, even when the PD led the government between 2013 and 2018.

Each time the subject is raised, it provokes a virulent reaction from the Brothers of Italy and the far-right League, tipped to win the legislative elections on September 25 in alliance with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

When Roberto Speranza, health minister and politician from a small left-wing progressive group, said this week that Ius Soli would be a priority, Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Brethren of Italy – who could be Italy’s next prime minister – replied: “Ius Soli is one of the main targets of the left… their priorities always remain the same, far from the realities and the needs of the Italians.

In a previous interview with La Repubblica, Lame said: “It’s not fair that someone who lives and grows with Italian culture for so many years and is clean, still doesn’t have the right to citizenship. And I’m not just speaking for myself.

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