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An Italian Museum Covered Its Nude Statues For Iranian President's Visit

Nude statues at an Italian museum were reportedly covered up to avoid offending Italy's controversial new business partner.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome's Capitoline Museums on Monday, The Guardian reports.

The two reportedly discussed their countries' economic relationship, and numerous business deals were secured by Iranian officials and Italian businesses during the visit, as well.

Prior to the meeting, Italian officials apparently feared the museum's nude statues would not be tolerated by the conservative Rouhani.

Large white boxes were therefore placed in front of these statues in a move ANSA, an Italian news agency, said was purely out of respect for Iranian culture.

Several Italian politicians, however, slammed the decision.

Fabio Rampelli, leader of the right-wing Fratelli d'Italia party, reportedly said,

The choice of shielding the nudity of several statues at the Capitoline Museum is worthy of the worst Islamic terrorist. It's a decision that offends Western culture, as well as the supremacy of art as a vehicle for culture and liberty.

Luca Squeri, a lawmaker in the center-right Forza Italia party, echoed this opinion, The Guardian reports.

He said,

Respect for other cultures cannot and must not mean negating our own. This isn't respect, it's canceling out differences and it's a kind of surrender.

According to the BBC, officials also chose not to serve wine at meals with Rouhani due to Iran's laws against alcohol consumption.

In November, Rouhani reportedly requested wine not be served during a scheduled dinner with French President François Hollande.

Hollande allegedly would not comply because the lack of wine would have gone against a valued French custom.

This meeting was postponed due to the attacks in Paris.

It is not clear who specifically ordered the Roman statues to be covered up, but a spokesman for the city of Rome told The Guardian the decision was made by the office of the prime minister.

The Vatican confirmed Rouhani also met with Pope Francis on Tuesday to talk about Iran's role in restoring peace in the Middle East, as well as the Iranian nuclear deal.

The leaders also exchanged gifts. Pope Francis reportedly gave Rouhani a medallion of St. Martin and received a handmade carpet from Rouhani.

Citations: Italian Politicians Furious As Rome Covers Nude Statues For Iranian President's Visit (Huffington Post), Rome spares Iranian president's blushes by covering nude statues (The Guardian), Rouhani in Europe: Italy covers nudes for Iran president (BBC)