Italians outraged by statues being covered-up for Iranian President
Italy's efforts to avoid hurting the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's sensibilities by covering ancient nude statues in Rome's Capitoline museum created an uproar in Italy. The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi faced a lot of flak as the Italian commentators said that Renzi had "gone too far to please his guest." They further said that he had "surrendered" Italy's cultural identity.
Italy saves Iranian President from looking at nude-statues
Ahead of the meeting between the Iranian President and Italian PM, the Italian authorities covered up nude statues at the city's Capitoline Museum, where the two were to meet. The Italian administration said that the decision to cover the artwork was taken out of respect for the Iranian president. Photos showed them standing near the statue of Marcus Aurelius while others stood covered.
No alcohol at the dinner for President
The Iranian administration had also requested the Italian counterparts to not keep wine (or any alcoholic beverage) at the dinner that was to be held for the Iranian President.
Rouhani on his maiden Europe visit
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani embarked on his maiden European visit. The Iranian president was visiting to sign various business deals, now that the sanctions on Iran have been lifted. Rouhani met with Pope Francis and Italian PM Renzi to sign trade "deals worth at least $18 billion." It was the first meeting between a Pope and an Iranian leader in 16 years.
Renzi's previous statue cover-ups
In 2015, Renzi, the mayor of Florence, ordered the covering up of nude pictures in the renaissance town hall of Florence. This was done to avoid offending the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi who was visiting at that time. Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (belonging to one of the wealthiest UAE families) was in Italy to sign diplomatic deals in the country.
Italian opposition grills Renzi
The Italian opposition grilled PM Renzi for the self-censorship with Daniele Capezzone, a centre-Right MP and a former spokesman for Silvio Berlusconi's party, Forza Italia saying that Italy "bowing down to the Iranians like this is embarrassing". Others protested that the efforts to hide the statues went directly against their culture. They also sought an apology from the PM.