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Italy PM denounces "slide toward barbarism" in Italy politics as sexist, racist taunts rise

Premier Enric Letta has denounced what he calls "a slide toward barbarism" in Italian politics.

Letta's comments Monday, during a trip to Doha, Qatar, come amid an online campaign by the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement against the speaker of Parliament's lower house.

A video posted on the popular blog of the 5-Star Movement's founder, Beppe Grillo, depicts Laura Boldrini as a paper cutout who wears a communist symbol, then a fascist black shirt. Boldrini told state TV Sunday that comments accompanying the video were full of "sexual violence."

Hannes Swoboda, the European parliament's center-left opposition leader, has denounced Grillo and his followers for their "racist, sexist and rape-glorifying online exchange" about Boldrini.

Grillo supporters also in recent days have attacked a TV interviewer and have long railed against Italy's president.