Italy’s public national television network, Rai, announced Monday that it will discontinue the broadcasting of the talk show Parliamone… Sabato (in English, “Let’s talk about it on Saturday”) after it ignited a controversy with a segment that many called sexist and racist.

During Saturday’s episode of the show, host Paola Perego asked her guests to discuss a list of the six reasons why Italian men prefer to date women from Eastern Europe. The list, which the host said she had found online, claimed that Eastern European women are “always sexy,” they “forgive infidelity,” and they are “willing to let their men rule.”

The segment was called “The threat comes from the East.” Most of the guests endorsed the list; one said that Eastern European women allow their partners to sleep with prostitutes and therefore are preferable to Italian women. The host also mentioned that US President Donald Trump chose not one, but two Eastern European wives.

After the segment aired, many viewers took over social media to accuse the producers of sexism and racism.

“It’s offensive to everyone,” said Laura Boldrini, President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian parliament, during a press conference on Monday. “It’s offensive to the Italian women, who are considered incapable of having a relationship, to the Eastern [European] women, who are described as domestic animals, and to Italian men, who are depicted as incapable of having an equal relationship with women.”

Both Rai’s general manager and the head of the channel Rai Uno issued statements to apologize to their viewers. General manager Antonio Campo Dall’Orto said that the cancellation of the show aims to make the network’s contents more coherent with its values.

One viewer wrote on Facebook: “It’s obvious that the issue is not about the women of the East; it’s about the viewers of the West.”

Photo: A screenshot from Rai Uno.

Posted by Simone Somekh

Born and raised in Turin, Italy, Simone Somekh has worked with publications based in Milan, Jerusalem, Berlin, Tokyo, and New York. He is currently pursuing an M.A. degree in Journalism and European & Mediterranean Studies at New York University. Follow him on Twitter @simonsays101

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