What If Iranian President Rouhani Visited Greece?

By on January 30, 2016

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is on a whirlwind tour of European capitals— his first since sanctions against his country were lifted.

Like the good European politicians they are, leaders of “civilized” Europe are rolling out red carpets and hosting lavish state dinners for him (read: his country’s billions).

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was ridiculed internationally for covering nude statues with large boxes at Rome’s Campidoglio museum to not offend the Iranian leader.

It seems that perfectly sculpted thousand-plus year old statues that are part of the heritage of Italy and all the Western World might offend Housani— but public beheadings, whippings and stoning to death in his country don’t offend him?

Renzi also bowed to the Iranian and did the unthinkable in Italy, where wine is as much a part of the country’s culinary culture as is… pizza.

Italian officials submitted to the Iranian leader’s demands and did not serve wine at Monday’s state dinner in Rome because, according to the Iranian leaders Muslim faith, there can be no wine at the table because alcohol is strictly prohibited— but presiding over a nation with one of the worst human rights records on the planet is OK?

Renzi’s decision outraged critics.

“Respect for other cultures cannot and must not mean negating our own,” said lawmaker Luca Squeri. “This isn’t respect, it’s canceling out differences and it’s a kind of surrender.”

Rome City Councilman Gianluca Peciola started an online petition demanding that Renzi explain “a disgraceful decision which is a mortification of art and culture as universal values.”

When in Rome, hide your culture

When in Rome, hide your culture

Thankfully, there are leaders with principles.

Moving on to France, French President François Hollande decided that having wine with his lunch is more important than breaking bread with the Iranian president and cancelled the official lunch that was planned at the Élysée Palace in Paris.

It appears that Rouhani had asked for a halal menu— in keeping with his Muslim faith, and that no wine be at the table.

“It is not the halal which was a problem but the wine,” France’s ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, said on Twitter. “Nobody should constrain anybody to drink or not to drink.”

Rouhani was offered a breakfast instead but turned it down.

At the end of the day, it appeared worthwhile to the Italian prime minister to sell a bit of his soul to the devil. Rouhani and his delegation, free from the shackles of sanctions and economic isolation dolled out $18 billion in contracts and new business to the Europeans.

A pipeline contract worth between $4 billion and $5 billion was signed for oil services group Saipem, up to 5.7 billion euros in contracts for Italian steel firm Danieli and up to 4 billion euros of business for infrastructure firm Condotte d’Acqua… Add to this list an order for 114 aircraft from European plane maker Airbus as soon as March and potentially the need for 400 more in the not-too-distant future.

Thankfully Rouhani’s European tour didn’t include Greece.

I mean, what would the Greeks do with these?

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And covering these would make for some logistic challenges, given their sheer size.

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Oh, and what about all those ancient plates— dozens that appear in practically every museum in the country? It’s a good thing replicas weren’t made and used in Greece’s presidential palace. Things could get really hairy once Rouhani takes the last bite of his halal stew.

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