Italian officials covered up nude statues in Rome’s Capitolini museum ahead of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit.
The modesty measures were imposed prior to Rouhani’s meeting Monday with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Any directive to cover up the statues came from the prime minister’s office directly, and not from city officials who normally run the museum, according to a Rome city official.
The covering of the statues was done out of “a form of respect to the culture and sensitivity of Iran,” an Italian news source reported. In addition, no wine was served during the meeting as to not offend Rouhani’s sensibilities.
— JosephineMcKenna (@JosephineMcK) January 26, 2016
— Reuters Business (@ReutersBiz) January 25, 2016
Rouhani is a practicing Shia Muslim. Islamic tradition strictly forbids consumption of alcohol and emphasizes adherence to modesty regarding nudity and covering oneself. Some Islamic traditions even believe art that involves images of man, such as portraits or sculptures, can be idolatrous.
The move has led some to mock the situation. Italian media outlet AnsiaPOP, for example, posted pictures of boxes subtitled with the names of famous Italian artwork featuring nudity.
— ANSiAPOP (@an_apop) January 26, 2016
Rouhani’s visit to Italy is part of a larger European tour that will include meetings with leaders across the continent. The tour comes just weeks after the lifting of sanctions on Iran and the unfreezing of tens of billions of dollars in assets that will be released to the Islamic republic.
Rouhani also met with Pope Francis in the Vatican Tuesday, and reportedly asked Francis to pray for him. The Vatican said “common spiritual values were highlighted” during the meeting, according to Iranian media.
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