News & Politics

Italy Covers Up Naked Statues for Visit by Iranian President

In this photo taken on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, wooden panels cover statues inside the Rome's Capitoline Museums. (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA via AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani paid a visit to Rome’s famous Capitoline Museums, which features some of the most beautiful works of art in the western world.

There was only one problem, however. Mr. Rouhani is a Muslim. And given the Islamic strictures against displaying the human form in all its glorious nakedness, Italian authorities were presented with something of a dilemma.

They solved the problem by placing white panels around the statues that displayed boy and girl bits, thus sparing Rouhani his offended cultural sensitivities.


Rouhani toured the Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums) – which hosts a huge collection of artefacts from the ancient, medieval and renaissance periods – accompanied by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on 25 January.

However, the Iranian leader could not admire some of the museum’s masterpieces, as all marbles depicting naked scenes had been carefully hid behind large white panels.

The vast censorship effort was reportedly implemented as a show of respect to the reformist president, out of fears that the exposed private parts of ancient Roman gods could offend Iranian sensitivity. Wine was also banned from official receptions.

The move angered many Italians, who have accused authorities of betraying the country’s cultural heritage in the name of political correctness and business interests. Hundreds of people voiced their displeasure online, with some posting photos of unclothed icons online under the hashtag ‘statuenude’ (naked statues) in protest.

The Capitoline Museums, located on the iconic Capitoline hill, are managed by the local council. However, a spokesperson said all aspects of Rouhani’s visit were attended to by the government. IBTimes UK asked Renzi’s office for comment but had received no reply at the time of publishing.

Rouhani’s landing in Rome marked the first trip to Europe by an Iranian president in 16 years and comes after the lifting of economic sanctions against the Islamic republic following the nuclear deal.

Given what we’ve seen recently of marauding Muslim men going all Visigoth on European women, what possible “cultural sensitivities” would the Italians be offending if they allowed Rouhani to glimpse the full, round breasts of Venus? Or the manly manliness of Mars?

OK, we get it. The Iranian is a guest and you don’t make a guest feel uncomfortable by forcing him to look at the naked human form if it offends his religious convictions — no matter how beautiful or artfully presented.

In this photo taken on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, wooden panels cover statues inside the Rome's Capitoline Museums. (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA via AP)

In this photo taken on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, wooden panels cover statues inside the Rome’s Capitoline Museums. (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA via AP)

But when are the Iranians going to start respecting our cultural sensitivities? How about the Iranians stopping their constant Holocaust denialism? Maybe Supreme Leader Khamenei could halt the weekly “Death to America” chants shouted from every mosque in the country?

Somehow, when it comes to Islam and the west, there is no placating their “cultural sensitivities” — only surrendering to their worldview. They have no respect for western cultural values like free speech, freedom of religion, or equality of the sexes. In fact, they see these essential elements of our culture as evil.

For diplomatic reasons, the Italians were probably correct in covering up their classical nudes. But respect is a two-way street and Rouhani should be made to realize that fact.