No matter how you look at it, this is bad. If Iran demanded it, then it is clear Iran is intolerant and refuses to accept other cultures. If Italy covered up the “offending” artwork on its own initiative, then it shows it is attempting to appease the Iranians. Some Italian politicians have denounced the cover-up as “cultural submission.”

Many Italians are upset after it became apparent that ahead of a joint news conference on Monday with Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and Iranian President Hassa Rouhani, wooden panels were erected around some Roman-era statues in Rome’s Capitoline Museums, apparently to refrain from possibly offending the Iranians who might find the nude statues insulting.

Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini says the decision was “incomprehensible.” Franceschini told reporters Wednesday that neither he nor Renzi authorized the cover-up.

“I think there easily would have been other ways to not offend an important foreign guest without this incomprehensible choice of covering up the statues,” Franceschini said.

Some Italian politicians have denounced the cover-up as “cultural submission.”

However, Rouhani claims Iran did not make any specific requests for Rome museum officials to cover up naked statues, but says he nevertheless appreciated the welcome he received.

Rouhani laughed Wednesday when asked at the end of a three-day visit to Italy about the statue cover-up, which made headlines in Italy and around the world.

Rouhani said Iran made no specific request for the cover-up, saying there were “no contacts about this” from the Iranian side.

“I know that Italians are a very hospitable people, a people who try to do the most to put their guests at ease and I thank you for this,” he added.

Rouhani squeezed in a bit of sightseeing during the first official visit by an Iranian leader to Italy since 1999.

Before leaving Rome for Paris, Rouhani got a guided tour of Rome’s most iconic monument, the Colosseum. Rouhani and the Iranian delegation spent about a half-hour at the arena, receiving a guided tour by Franceschini, who opposed the statue cover-up.

While tourists were cleared from the Colosseum complex when US President Barack Obama visited last year, sightseers milled about as usual while Rouhani took his tour. Bodyguards, however, kept them at a distance from the Iranian leader and his delegation.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff


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