Rome covers up nude statues for Rouhani

The classical nude beauties at Rome's Capitoline Museum were covered during a press conference given by Iranian President Rouhani and Italian Prime Minister - out of respect for the Muslim guest. Has Rome made a fool of itself with this gesture?

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L'Obs (FR) /

Italy more prudish than Iranian regime

Italy's self-censorship shows how little the West knows about Iranian politics and society, the centre-left weekly L'Obs writes commenting on the covering up of nude statues during the Iranian president's visit:

“Because even those who defend the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic have not been able to have the libertine paintings in Isfahan's Ali Qapu Palace and Chehel Sotoun covered. These frescoes, some of which show women with their hair blowing in the wind and serving wine to men at banquets, were covered during the 1979 revolution to protect them from religious zeal. But President Rafsanjani had them uncovered and inaugurated with much pomp. Even today the dignitaries of the regime show them to visitors and take delight in their reactions. You can bet they're also getting a big kick out of the Italians' prudishness.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Europe has its Problems with nudity too

The covering up of nude statues at Rome's Capitoline Museum is not a betrayal of Western culture, writes the Catholic daily Avvenire, noting that this has been done several times in the past:

“The painter Daniele da Volterra went down in history with the unflattering nickname 'the breeches maker' because he painted underwear on Michelangelo's scantily clad figures in the Sistene Chapel. … So a certain prudence regarding pictorial representation, which has always played more than a decorative role, is part of the Western identity. Even more complex and multi-faceted is the Muslim stance regarding nudity. … The confrontation with otherness requires above all knowledge of oneself, otherwise it all becomes a caricature. And this is precisely what happened in Rome.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Covering up naked statues won't help anyone

Covering up one's own cultural heritage out of misplaced consideration for Muslim sensibilities is taking things too far, the centre-left daily La Repubblica rails:

“Clearly from today's point of view the question of insults is a major bone of contention between the West and Islam. With few exceptions the West has learned how to deal with this. The same does not apply to Islam, however, or at least to a considerable part of the Islamic world. It seems that tolerance for those who are different is not a quality possessed by those we are obliged to treat with kid gloves. And helping them is no easy job. Nevertheless, hiding our precious cultural assets so as not to offend their sensibilities will certainly not help them either. On the contrary it will only increase their inability - which is above all devastating for them - to recognise the diversity of the world and the huge potential offered by its many cultures and mentalities.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Gold rush is deceptive

Europe's hopes of flourishing trade with Iran could soon be dashed, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger warns:

“Iran is still a country in which excessive red-tape and rampant corruption make doing business difficult. In state-affiliated businesses, political loyalty has long counted for more than expertise. The Revolutionary Guard and religious foundations with access to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have used the years of sanctions to bring lucrative sectors under their control. ... Also in political terms Iran remains difficult to predict: missile tests in recent years show that at least the hardliners in the security apparatus are not about to stop their provocations. On the day the nuclear sanctions were lifted the US imposed further punitive measures for violations of UN resolutions.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Rouhani can't win battle against ayatollahs

With business deals worth billions Hassan Rouhani is confirming his country's return to the global market but he won't be able to push through true reforms in his country against the will of the ayatollahs, the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore is convinced:

“Because the country's spiritual leader [Ali Khamenei] has direct control of the Setad, a 95-billion dollar company that is involved in all economic sectors. … And like the ayatollahs the Pasdaran, the guardians of the revolution who are involved in the fighting in Iraq and Syria and back Hezbollah in Lebanon, will extend their already considerable economic power. Correcting this system will be the real challenge for Hassan Rouhani. He took the first step with the nuclear deal but reforming the Islamic Republic is far more complicated. After all, he himself is a mullah and to bring about change he will have to saw off his own branch.”

More opinions

Kurier (AT) / 28 January 2016
  Europe denies its culture for the sake of business (in German)