Italy showed respect to Iranian culture by covering nude statues during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Rouhani met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at Capitoline Museums. Some of the most-admired Italian nude masterpieces were covered in the rooms adjacent to the one where the leaders met.
According to Italian media, it was a form of respect to Iran’s sensitivity. To show respect to Rouhani’s culture, wine was not served during the meeting.
Italy’s decision to cover the nudes immediately became a point of discussion in the international political arena. Hashtag #StatueNude has gone trending on Twitter. The hashtag is being used in Italy to protest against covering the Renaissance art.
Irish journalist James Creedon said on France24 that it was unclear if Iran made any particular request to Italy to cover the nudes. He said it might be an attempt to “keep everyone happy.”
Italian users on Twitter, however, tweeted images of nude statues to the Iranian president. Grant Goodall (@gbags09) wonders if respecting others’ culture means denying “your own.” One user compares Italian sculpture with Iranian mosques. “Sculptures are for Italians what Mosques are for Iranians,” vicente duarte (@vicenteduarte84) tweeted.
— Wílmerdön (@wilmerdon) January 26, 2016
Vahan Janjigian (@VahanJanjigian) went sarcastic about “respecting others’ culture.” “Iran promises to serve wine and disrobe all of its statues when #Renzi visits Tehran,” the user predicts a future-headline.
— Nicolette (@OeiNicolette) January 26, 2016
— Sarah Hempel Irani (@SarahHIrani) January 26, 2016
While the Italian government has not commented on the decision, CNN reported the PM’s office made plans for the meeting, according to a spokesperson in Rome.
This is the first visit to Italy for an Iranian president in 16 years. Rouhani signed business deals worth US$18 billion (AU$25 billion) with Italian companies. The Iranian president earlier cancelled his visit to France after the terror attacks in Paris.
During his visit, Rouhani met Pope Francis and Italian President Sergio Mattarella.