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. 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!

  2. 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.

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