Sunday, August 28, 2016

Persian Letters

Memes Circulate After Italy Hides Nude Statues For Rohani Visit

One of the ancient Roman marble statues at Rome's Capitoline Museum on Capitol Hill that was covered during a meeting between the Italian prime minister and the Iranian president on January 26.
One of the ancient Roman marble statues at Rome's Capitoline Museum on Capitol Hill that was covered during a meeting between the Italian prime minister and the Iranian president on January 26.

Memes are making the rounds mocking Italy's decision to cover up nude statues at Rome's Capitoline Museum with big white boxes for a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rohani.

The decision has caused anger in Italy, where it has been condemned by critics as "incomprehensible," "ridiculous," and "submission" to principles that are against Western culture.

Speaking on January 27 in Rome, Rohani said that Tehran had not contacted Italian officials to ask for the statues to be covered up.

"This issue is something journalists and the press like to discuss," Rohani said.

He added that he didn't have "any talks" with Italian authorities on the issue.

"I know that the Italians are very hospitable, a people who seek to make their guests' visits as pleasant as possible and I thank them for that," Rohani added. 

After wrapping up his visit to Italy, Rohani arrived in France where he is expected to preside over the signing of major business contracts.

A photoshopped picture of the Mona Lisa wrapped in the Islamic hijab that is compulsory for women in Iran was being shared on social media ahead of the trip, which follows the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic republic under a landmark deal restricting its nuclear program.

"Preparations by Louvre Museum for Rohani's visit," reads the tweet.

Some Iranians have likened Italy's decision to cover up nude statues to Iran's state censorship, including tough Internet censorship that targets tens of thousands of websites.
"Smart filtering of statues during #Rohani's trip to #Italy," reads the tweet that includes a photo of the nude statues covered in the page that Iranians see when they try to access banned websites.

A photoshopped photo of Rohani posing with Pope Francis under a nude painting was widely circulated.

Here is the original photo.

Meanwhile, some suggested that there were perhaps more creative ways of covering up nude statues than hiding them behind wooden panels.

In 2013, a relief carving of a naked man at the UN's headquarters in Geneva was covered up by a large white screen apparently in an effort not to offend Iranian diplomats who were due to take part in talks over Iran's nuclear activities.

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Comment Sorting
by: Lepetit from: Mexico
January 28, 2016 01:15
Can you blame them? It's like the rich Arabs barging into Harrods. how they must miss the Shah on these occasions...

by: Earthling from: Earth
January 28, 2016 18:32
This is wrong on many levels. When someone visits an Islamic country, one expects Islamic restrictions. But when Muslims visit the West, they must not be pandered to. If they suffer pain from viewing Western art, they should stay home. A similar situation exists with respect to how Muslims and Jews kill animals, Dhabihah and Shechita, respectfully. Both involve the cutting of an animal's throat while it is fully conscious, in blatant violation of Western laws. Some restaurants in Britain already only serve halal food to make things simpler. We should enforce Western laws in Western countries.

by: Larry Hedrick from: Washington, DC
January 28, 2016 21:39
Very relevant reportage, Ms. Esfandiari, and a clever choice of memes. This inventive combination of words and images is so suggestive that your article packs far more of a punch than the vast majority of treatments of the 'clash of civilizations' that is now in train. I particularly like the fact that this article invites us to smile at a time when, beyond Charlie, smiles are as scarce as hen's teeth in discussions of Islamic-Western relations!
In Response

by: Ali from: Tehran
January 30, 2016 21:38
I love her reports.
In Response

by: Larry Hedrick from: Washington
January 31, 2016 07:01
Yes, Ms. Esfandiari is always insightful, Ali. She makes her analyses seem natural, but she must have worked very hard to reach her present high level of insight. And of course she's very intelligent. It will be fascinating, I'm sure, to discover what subjects 'Persian Letters' deals with in future.

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
January 29, 2016 05:37
I would never pander to muslims. We have laws decided on by the people and not some book from centuries ago. I love pork too.

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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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