Roman Museum Covers Up Nude Works To Avoid Insulting Iranian President

220px-Capitoline_Venus_Musei_Capitolini_MC0409220px-Hassan_RouhaniThere was a very disturbing scene at Rome’s famous Capitoline Museum recently during a joint press conference between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Italian Premeir Matteo Renzi. The museum had nude sculptures covered up so not to insult the Islamic sensibilities of Rouhani and his staff. One of the statues was the “Capitoline Venus,” a Roman copy of a legendary fourth century B.C. work by Praxiteles. Ironically, it is piece that symbolized the modesty of Venus in covering up after a bath. Not modest enough, it appears, for the Iranians.

The willingness of Western leaders to yield to such medieval objections, even in a place of Western culture, is highly troubling. Devout Muslims (and other orthodox religious people who may be offended by such art) can of course choose to avoid Western art and culture. However, when you visit Rome (one of the great centers of Western Civilization) you can expect to see great art works including nude sculptures.

Of course, the Romans are not alone in such measures. Under Attorney General John Ashcroft, the two naked figures in the Great Hall of the Main Justice building were covered by blue drapes after a memo discussed the need for “hiding the statues.”

What is interesting is that not only does Culture Minister Dario Franceschini deny an knowledge of the plan but Rouhani insists that the Iranians hadn’t requested any such measures. Yet, he said “I know that Italians are a very hospitable people, a people who try to do the most to put their guests at ease and I thank you for this.”

Now Italians are pointing figures at each other. Officials at the Capitoline Museum said that the disgraceful decision was made by Mr. Renzi’s office, but Franceschini insisted that neither he nor Mr. Renzi knew of the decision. Putting aside who is responsible (though it would be good to confirm so someone can be held accountable), it is curious that this location would be selected given the sensibilities of the Iranians.

Western Civilization cannot survive the onslaught of religious extremism if we hide our culture and history behind shipping boxes. If the museum was acceptable to the Iranians for a meeting place, they should be in for “a penny or a pound.” This is the wonderful legacy of Rome and should not be shoved under a bed like some teenager’s copy of Penthouse. Indeed, such a visit could be transformative for the Iranians. This could have been a lesson in cultural pluralism and tolerance. Instead, someone reinforced the Iranian view that art should not be tolerated and should be concealed to protect their sensibilities. Italians deserve to know who created this fiasco and how that person will be held accountable.

What do you think?

44 thoughts on “Roman Museum Covers Up Nude Works To Avoid Insulting Iranian President

  1. @JT
    “Western Civilization cannot survive the onslaught of religious extremism if we hide our culture and history behind shipping boxes.” “Devout Muslims can of course choose to avoid Western art and culture.”

    What about devout Christians hiding our culture and history under heavy, expensive drapes?

    “WASHINGTON (AP) (2002) – No longer will the attorney general be photographed in front of two partially nude statues in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice.

    “The department spent $8,000 on blue drapes that hide the two giant, aluminum art deco statues, said spokesman Shane Hix. For aesthetic reasons, he said, the drapes were occasionally hung in front of the statues before formal events. The department used to rent the drapes, but has now purchased them and left them hanging.”

    “ABC News reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the statues covered because he didn’t like being photographed in front of them.”

  2. We are all Muslims now! We will rue the day that we decided that our culture was worthless and that those who scream “offense” get to destroy it! The next time it will be ordering women to stay away from men, cover up and travel only with other women in groups…oh never mind that’s already been done by the Mayor of Cologne, Germany.

  3. Well, it was certainly the wrong place to great them. Surely there is someplace in Roma without a nude statue.

  4. “Western Civilization cannot survive the onslaught of religious extremism ”

    That also seems to be the goal of the vocal minority (i hope) of progressive activists that view Western civilization as the root of all evil. Something the two groups have in common even if they won’t admit it.

  5. Old joke that illustrates Italian courage.

    What do you call an Italian submarine captain?


    The Italian government is displaying the same courage that Sec. Kerry displayed when our sailors were humiliated.

    By the way, Has the Obama administration ever given a credible explanation for what happened?

  6. In the US you can watch old movies with the breasts of marble statues blanked out. There was a time here as well. We are living history here, watching those presently retarded and those evolving, albeit slowly, from having been retarded, at the same time. That is the greatest value of history, understanding where we came from and thanking our lucky stars we don’t live in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, etc.

    I wonder if Iran would allow a Mapplethorpe retrospective in Tehran.

  7. When Secretary Powell gave his infamous speech at the UN Security Council, the replica of “Guernica” was covered over or removed. I forgot which of the two.
    It has only been very recent that the Michelangelo mural of the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel was cleaned. The cleaners removed drapes which covered the genitals of naked figures.
    There is still plenty of hypocrisy going around in the Christian world also.

  8. An easy fix — do not enter the country. Too many leaders conform to Iran’s wacko muslim no no’s, at least the ones they project to the public. I wouldn’t let that pig into my country, unless he conformed to my countries cultural beliefs, not us conforming to his.

  9. No, it’s cool. When Westerners visit Iran, they should discard all the chadors, roosaries, and rain coats to avoid offending our sensibilities.

  10. Just think, if the Crusades hadn’t stopped the Muslim Expansion in its efforts to conquer Europe, all us ladies would be bundled up right now in veils under Sharia Law.

  11. Send Hassan Rouhani on a sabbatical to the Amazon. Meet an Indian boy named Koka. Koka gets angry when you say no!
    He grabs, pushes and bullies missionary team twice his size in this video.

  12. @JT
    “…someone reinforced the Iranian view that art should not be tolerated and should be concealed to protect the (sic) their sensibilities.”

    “What do you think?”
    At the risk of raining on the Islam-bashing parade here, I think that the problem noted isn’t limited to Islamic fundamentalism, but is a characteristic of Christian fundamentalism, as well:

    Ashcroft’s Moral Obligations: The Assembly of God and Exposure

    “To understand John Ashcroft’s objection to ‘The Spirit of Justice’, we must understand John Ashcroft in terms of his moral upbringing. We can find this through his religious faith. As a member of the Assemblies of God Church, Ashcroft is particularly susceptible to being offended by a statue such as ‘The Spirit of Justice’, due to the church’s stance upon both sin and nudity. (Emphasis added)

    “On sin, the Assembly of God looks to their doctrines on the ‘security of the believer,’ or the chances one has to receive salvation. The church, while sympathetic to some aspects of Calvinist doctrine (including the importance of God in determining those who are to be saved), reject the notion of predestination, instead believing in the free will of man to follow their own destinies. Therefore, the church believes that those who wish salvation must be vigilant in their fight against deviation from the faith.

    “At the same time, they acknowledge the fallibility of man, and therefore are sympathetic to isolated incidents of sinning. However, the church frowns upon repeated sinning as a sign that the individual has slipped away from God, and therefore cannot be saved(iii). In the case of Ashcroft, the question of sin could become quite important.

    “If gazing, or allowing individuals to gaze, at the breast is something that could be considered a repeated sin, then Ashcroft’s very soul is at risk of being lost to Hell, something that would likely worry him greatly. So, in order to understand whether the church sees the breast as something needing to be covered, we should discover whether the breast would be considered a sin, something the Assembly addresses when discussing pornography. (Emphasis added)

    “On pornography, the Assembly states that porn ‘violates the sexual and moral integrity of human beings.'(iv) While their understanding of pornography is not uncommon among Christian denominations, the Assembly of God extends their view further, taking a much more conservative view on classical nudity. This view, and the fear of even the more classical form, is where we find Ashcroft’s moral indignation towards ‘The Spirit of Justice.’ (Emphasis added)

    “On more classical nudity, the Assemblies of God refuse to accept it as something that is not a sin, noting, ‘Blanket approval of “mere” nudity has its dangers. When does “mere” nudity begin to take on clear suggestions of sexual activity? The impact of such material on children, on attitudes about women, and on the relationship between the sexes must be seriously considered.'(v)

    “Therefore, in the eyes of the Assemblies of God, tame and classical nudity, such as that in ‘The Spirit of Justice,’ is something that needs to be hidden, as a result of its power and impact upon women and children. The nudity’s potential for harm outweighs its potential for good, regardless of what conception the artist was attempting to address.

    “So, considering that Ashcroft is a very active member of the church(vi), the covering of the statue, regardless of what it actually addressed, is a justified move designed to protect women and children from potential sin. Therefore, Ashcroft can follow his faith, and can reach salvation by remaining ever vigilant against whatever sin could come from the exposed breast of ‘The Spirit of Justice.’ “ (Emphasis added)

  13. The Ashcroft Offended By Naked Breasts wasn’t so long ago. How in the world is it possible that Turley didn’t remember that and understand that we suffer from the same idiocy?

    Questions abound.

  14. What does this man do behind closed doors? For innocuous transgressions under Sharia Law, Muslims stone to death the very wives they compel to wear burqas. Understanding that the Quran requires Muslims to convert or kill infidels, and that Muslims, therefore, violate the Constitution and deny the freedom of religion to Americans, Muslims should not be allowed entry or residence in America and no concessions of any kind should made to Muslims anywhere in the world. Muslims are constitutional enemies of America.

  15. The Ashcroft incident is in the post. We need a literacy test for those wanting to comment here! And, this Muslim cleric just once again stated the Holocaust was a hoax. I did see the Pope lovingly greeting this evil cleric. He gives credibility to Communists and religious fanatics. What a disappointment.

  16. Karen S. The Crusades stopped Islam’s conquest of Europe? No. If anything they were fodder, albeit much later in history, for the Ottoman Empire to strike back. The Ottomans were stopped, among others by the sea battle at Lepanto in which a famous Spanish writer was injured and by a motley band of soldiers near Vienna. I will even argue that the penetration of Southeastern Europe by the Ottoman Empire had little to do with spreading Islam but was a classic example of imperialist hubris.

  17. Karen PS. Please read up on the history of the Crusades because you will find that the reason why Constantinople became a main city of today’s Turkey was due to a stupid attack of Crusaders on what was still a Christian city at the time.

  18. Paul

    That’s Vlad the Inhaler. Vlad was known to have suffered severely from asthma and had to spend hours inhaling medicinal vapors before going out and impaling Turks.

  19. You know, I used to live in Portugal. Lovely Moorish architecture there left over from the Muslim Expansion in Europe.

    The early Crusades were the most noble causes – rescuing Christian slaves and reconquering the Holy Land. By the last Crusades, it devoted into a loosely organized Quest for Souvenirs and Treasure.

    The Middle East used to be mainly Jewish and Christian before it was conquered by Islam. Constantinople was, in fact, a Christian stronghold after the fall of the Roman Empire. After Muslims conquered the Holy Land, they razed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over Christ’s tomb, and cut off the Holy Land to the West. Now, call me crazy, but I imagine that the Muslims would have a strong opinion if Christians or Jews conquered Mecca and cut it off to Hajj.

    Considering the dire state of human rights, and especially women’s rights, in every single Muslim theocracy, I’d say we dodged a bullet. Or scimitar.

    One must take care not to judge battles fought a thousand years of ago by today’s standards. No society of the time would hold up.

  20. Italy Covered Naked Statues for Iran, but France Won’t Take Wine Off the Menu
    January 27, 2016
    Daniel Greenfield

    Italy’s government became the laughingstock of the world when it covered up nude statues in its bid to court Iran. France is still welcoming the head of the terrorist state, but it draws the line at no wine.

    A formal lunch between the French president and his Iranian counterpart during this week’s historic meeting was scrapped after the Elysée Palace reportedly refused Iran’s request to serve up halal meat and no wine.

    Rouhani, whose country has strict laws governing the consumption of alcohol, had requested a meal with a halal, alcohol-free menu. But this proved unacceptable for the Elysée, who politely declined citing France’s “republican traditions” surrounding Elysée dinners.

    In an attempt to reach a compromise, the Elysée suggested a breakfast meeting instead, but this was reportedly rejected by the Iranians as being “too cheap”.

    Rouhani’s visit comes after his trip to Italy, where not only was wine off the menu, but nude statues at a museum in Rome had to be covered up so as to spare the head of state’s blushes.

    You wouldn’t think that this was the hill to die on considering that Iran’s terror groups have set off bombs in France, but the French do love their wine. And any kind of resistance to Islamic theocracy is welcome.

  21. Karen

    Before the First Crusade reached Constantinople the mob had slaughtered over 35,000 Jews, just warming up for the big fight. Constantinople fell to Islam after it had been severely weakened by the Northern Christians who laid siege to it and defeated the Southern Christians or the end of the Roman Empire, the place where Christianity started a thousand years before.

    The First Crusade and indeed all the rest were primarily the result of the church editing the growing ruling classes. The ending of the Middle Ages which included the Crusades was also the culmination of a struggle between the church and the Dukes, Princes, Counts, and all their relatives etc that were consolidating power out of the vacuum created by the dissolution of Roman structure. The royals or quasi secular powers ruled through their armies. They exacted taxes in exchange for policing and protecting. The church ruled through superstition, something that came out of the cave with policing and protecting.

    Abbot Suger started the whole thing. He was the Pope’s man in Northern France and has been credited with the birth of Gothic Architecture with his partial rebuilding of the Abby Church of St. Denis, St. Denis being the patron saint of the area, at the time. He was also, as is typical, constantly confronted by and confronting the local royalty. This struggle can be seen throughout history with examples of kings being made to lay prostrate in the snow before the local wizard when the wizard’s control over the superstitious peasants grew greater than the fear of swords.

    So Abbot Suger killed a number of birds with one big move. Most of the top dogs went out of the country to gain loot, glory, and it would have been a weakened position at home to not go and rescue, etc, etc. The era of the Crusades served to bring back enormous wealth with the looting of Alexandria, Jerusalem, etc. It made the church more powerful and those royals that made it back came back to their lands which were now under greater control of the church and without a lot of their cousins and buddies that were slaughtered along the way, Richard the Lionheart and Louis the third for example. The extermination of the Templar Knights who created the first global banking system, is probably the greatest example of the church duking it out with dukes, or what happens if the royals get too big for their britches.

    The following crusades were more successful until they petered out with the onslaught of a growing Islam. Nothing consolidates a power than an enemy from afar. The crusades were hopeless before they started and served those that stayed at home, the church, until the French Revolution when the people got their licks in. But that’s another story.

  22. @issacbasonkavichi
    1, January 30, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Wait a minute. Are you suggesting something other than that if it hadn’t been for the brave Christian Crusaders, we’d all be wearing burkas or thawbs and speaking Arabic?

  23. The Muslim invaders were stopped first around 1730 South of Tours in France by Charles Martel or Chuck the Hammer as he was known at the time. This effectively stopped Islam from moving in North of the Pyrenees. Islam was well ensconced in the Iberian Peninsula for another six, seven hundred years. Then Charlton Heston helped stop them from reinforcing and reconquering. The last I saw of him is him riding, dead propped up on his horse, down the beach. I could never figure out why no one went after him. He was probably starting to smell. The Islamic advances from the Levant were kept in check by the Byzantines, Venetians, Genoese, etc., primarily due to superior naval strength until the Muslims took Constantinople. The advances of an end run type up through Eastern Europe were stopped East of Vienna by the consolidated strength of Europe and the over stretching of the Islamic armies, a plight that seems to stop most invasions: Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler, etc. The Crusades were the result of the church getting rid of troublesome competing royalty and loot.

  24. as long as we have characters like the current character in the WH, leading this nation, we are at a great danger of killing our values and culture from within. Our current leaders think that imitating the backward cultures is the right thing to do, its the most pathetic thing to do as you are reinforcing the backward behaviors by doing that!

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