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Italy covers up nude marble statues for Iranian president’s visit

Plywood panels cover naked statues in the Capitoline Museum during a meeting between Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Rome on Monday. (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA via AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani commenced an eventful trip to Europe this week, one that will see him ink about $18 billion worth of deals with Western companies and governments. Tehran is emerging from the isolation imposed by years of international sanctions, which were recently lifted after Iran agreed to implement strict limits on its nuclear program.

As part of his visit to Rome, Rouhani toured the famed Capitoline Museum with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Monday. The building is home to numerous prized works of antiquity, some of which appear to show human figures in the nude.

Given the sensibilities of the theocratic Iranian regime, Italian authorities decided to conceal some of the more perhaps offending artworks during Rouhani's visit. Plywood boxes and panels were placed around the objects to obscure them from the Iranian president's vision, or at least in photo-ops.

In accordance with protocols governing visits by Muslim dignitaries, alcohol was not served at a dinner hosted in Rouhani's honor. As my colleague Anthony Faiola noted last year, the Iranians apparently did not receive similar dispensation during an earlier visit to France, whose government balked at the notion of hosting an official dinner without wine.

On Tuesday, Rouhani also visited the Vatican and held meetings with Pope Francis. The pair discussed their "shared spiritual values" and exchanged gifts.

As you can see by comparing the official photo above and the spoof photo below, the Internet decided to have a little fun at Rouhani's expense.