- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Italian officials reportedly covered up several ancient nude statues Monday to avoid offending Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during his meeting with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at Rome’s Capitoline Museum.

Photographs of Monday’s visit showed that nude statues in the general vicinity were covered by large white panels, The Guardian reported. A spokesman for the city of Rome, which manages the museum, said the decision to shroud Venus and other female figures was handed down by the prime minister’s office.

In another gesture of cultural sensitivity, alcohol was not served at the Muslim president’s official welcoming dinner, The Guardian reported.

“Italy bowing down to the Iranians like this is embarrassing,” opined Daniele Capezzone, an MP and former spokesman for Silvio Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia, The Telegraph reported.

“Is Italy reduced to this? And to not serve wine, again so as not to ‘offend?’” he asked.

Giorgia Meloni, the head of the right-leaning Fratelli d’Italia party, said, “The level of cultural subjection by Renzi and the Left has surpassed the limits of decency.”

Giuseppe Musmarra, a political analyst, similarly argued against the censorship in an editorial for the Italian edition of the Huffington Post.

“Covering up the statues in the Capitoline Museum is to symbolically renounce our art and our culture and to abdicate every principle of secularism,” he wrote, according to a translation by The Telegraph. “It is the capitulation of a country. One can dialogue, and one must, but it needs to be done with dignity.”

Mr. Rouhani’s visit to Europe is his first since sanctions were lifted in Iran. On Tuesday, he met with Pope Francis and other top church officials.

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