Rouhani ‘didn’t ask for nude statues to be covered up’

Rouhani 'didn’t ask for nude statues to be covered up'
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said there had been no prior discussion between Italy and Iran over Italy’s decision to obscure nude sculptors during a visit to Rome’s Capitoline Museums on Monday.

In a move that sparked widespread criticism in Italy and beyond, the statues were covered up with cardboard boxes to spare Rouhani’s blushes and was seen as a mark of respect for the traditions of the Muslim country, which has only just had its trade sanctions lifted.

The statues lined a corridor which the Iranian delegation had to pass on their way to a press conference.

Read more here: Rome's nude statues covered to spare Rouhani's blushes

But Rouhani told reporters on Wednesday that the story, which overshadowed the announcement during the conference of deals worth up to €17 billion between the two countries, was hyped by the media.

“There was no contact in regards to this,” he was quoted by Ansa as saying.

“I can only say that Italians are very hospitable, they try to do all they can to put guests at ease, and I thank them for that.”

But the decision was lambasted by Italian politicians, with Daniele Capezzone, a centre-right politician and spokesman for the People of Freedom party, saying, “Italy bowing to Iranians like this is embarrassing.”