Italy minister says Iran statue coverup 'incomprehensible'

ROME -- Italy's culture minister has criticized as "incomprehensible" the decision to cover up naked statues at a Rome museum where Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was visiting, adding a new twist to the controversy that has dominated Rouhani's deal-making visit to Italy.

See Full Article

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini told reporters Wednesday that neither he nor Premier Matteo Renzi were informed about the decision, which was apparently taken by lower-ranking officials in a bid to avoid offending the visiting leader. The coverup involved the placement of several wooden panels to shield nude statues at Rome's Capitoline Museums, where Rouhani and Renzi held a joint press conference Monday.

The measures made headlines across Italy and prompted some politicians to accuse the government of caving into "cultural submission."

"I think there easily would have been other ways to not offend an important foreign guest without this incomprehensible choice of covering up the statues," Franceschini said. He spoke to reporters at the Colosseum, where he gave Rouhani a guided tour before the Iranian delegation left for France.

Rouhani, for his part, said the Iranians hadn't requested any such measures by saying "there were no contacts about this." But he seemed to appreciate the gesture.

"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," he told reporters when asked about the coverup.

Rouhani's visit was aimed at pushing Iran into a more prominent role on the world stage after the nuclear deal with Western powers ended most European economic sanctions on Tehran.

At a press conference, Rouhani invited American businessmen to join their European counterparts in investing in Iran and taking advantage of the new era of "win-win" collaboration after years of mutual losses.

"It's possible, but the key is in Washington, not in Tehran," he said. "At the same time today, if American investors and the heads of the American economy want to come to Iran and invest in my country, there are no problems from our point of view."

Rouhani heads next to Paris, where his originally scheduled visit was called off after the Nov. 13 attacks.

Rouhani told reporters that he and Pope Francis discussed the need for religious leaders to speak out against extremism and terrorism during their audience Tuesday. But in an apparent reference to the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Rouhani said freedom of expression "doesn't mean offending that which is sacred to other people's faith."

Francis was asked last year about the Charlie Hebdo attacks and suggested that a violent reaction could be expected when someone's faith was insulted. The pope said while violence must be condemned, anyone who insults his mother can expect to be punched.

Rouhani concurred and said Francis had told him the anecdote.

While saying that extremist violence must be condemned, "All religions are to be respected, their books and the millions of people who follow the faith," Rouhani said. Insulting them "creates division and doesn't help anyone."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Love in the air: Pope marries couple on papal plane

    World News CTV News
    Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding on Thursday, marrying two flight attendants from Chile's flagship airline at 36,000 feet during a flight from Santiago. Bride Paula Podest, 39, and groom Carlos Ciuffardi, 41, said "I do" after telling Francis that they had been married in a civil service in 2010 but had been unable to follow up with a church ceremony because of the Feb. Source
  • Prince Harry, Meghan Markle visit Wales in whirlwind tour

    World News CTV News
    LONDON - Prince Harry has introduced his American fiancee to a new part of Britain ahead of their planned nuptials in May. On Thursday, the 33-year-old prince took Meghan Markle to Wales, where they delighted crowds outside Cardiff Castle despite arriving an hour late because of train problems as high winds buffeted Britain. Source
  • Vancouver Aquarium will no longer keep whales and dolphins in captivity

    Canada News CBC News
    The Vancouver Aquarium is giving up its fight to keep whales and dolphins in captivity, explaining the heated public debate on the issue is hindering its conservation work. Staff at the non-profit attraction were set to learn of the decision to end the cetacean program Thursday morning, according to CEO John Nightingale. Source
  • Alta. girl, 3, allegedly assaulted, used for child porn by father: RCMP

    Canada News CTV News
    OLDS, Alta. -- A central Alberta man is facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting his three-year-old daughter and using her to make child pornography. The Internet Child Exploitation unit of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team says information surfaced last October that someone in the province was allegedly sharing child pornography on social media. Source
  • Ont. agrees to end solitary confinement for mentally ill inmates

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Inmates with mental health disabilities will no longer be placed in solitary confinement barring exceptional circumstances under an agreement announced Thursday between the Ontario government and the province's human rights commission. The consent order issued by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario mandates the province end the use of segregation for the mentally disabled across its 26 correctional facilities. Source
  • Wettlaufer killing inquiry: 17 groups can take part, commissioner rules

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A surviving victim, relatives of murdered seniors, and advocacy and health-care groups are among 17 groups and entities granted permission to take part in a public inquiry sparked by nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, who is serving life for killing eight elderly long-term-care residents in Ontario. Source
  • U of G prof accused of mocking anxious student responds to allegations

    Canada News CBC News
    A University of Guelph professor who was put on a leave of absence after students allege he mocked and humiliated one of their classmates has responded to the allegations. "There's two sides to every story," said Edward Hedican, who students identified as the substitute professor who allegedly referred to a student's educational assistant as his "handler" who "needed to control" the student in a class Monday night. Source
  • 'Insanity' to allow nuclear waste storage near Ottawa River, Indigenous groups say

    Canada News CBC News
    Indigenous groups say a plan to store nuclear waste near the Ottawa River in eastern Ontario is "insanity" and want the federal government to intervene. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, a private company, wants a 10-year licence to keep running the Chalk River nuclear labs in eastern Ontario. Source
  • Animal protection group urges B.C. vet association to ban cat declawing

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER - The society that protects animal welfare in British Columbia is looking to the leadership of Nova Scotia's veterinarians as it calls for a ban on feline declawing. The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals wants the province's college of veterinarians to declare declawing unethical -- similar to a ban announced by the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association last month. Source
  • Holly Hamilton's ex-boyfriend, Justin Dumpfrey, charged with 2nd-degree murder

    Canada News CBC News
    Holly Hamilton's ex-boyfriend and the father of her young daughter, Justin Dumpfrey, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder a day after her body was found in the trunk of her car in a parking garage at 95 Barlake Ave. Source