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We associate the expression with Nixon and Watergate and the continued efforts of politicians, pedophile priests, their bibulous Bishops and other criminals to conceal and in some cases to legitimize in the eyes of the public their unsavory behavior.  This week Rome’s Capitoline Museum gave us an unexpected, different example, by covering up its nude statues so as to avoid offending the visiting prudish President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.

If this model of Muslim morality finds lifeless stone statues of uncovered women offensive, shocking and in violation of his ethical stance on women, should we not find that covering up to their eyeballs with burkas real live Iranian and other Muslim women, equally offensive, shocking and in violation of OUR ethical stance on the equality of women ?  It is an undiplomatic question, but our submission to Islam’s anachronistic values marks a victory for theocratic fascism.  This, I suppose, is the price one must pay them for buying products Made in Italy as well as French Rafale war-planes, over a hundred Airbus and thousands of Peugeot and Renault cars, to mention just a few of the multibillion dollar contracts on the table.

Muslim puritanical dress-codes for women oblige them to hide their hair if not their whole body except their eyes.  That a visiting Muslim dignitary with deep pockets could be offended by nude statues in Rome must make us wonder how he would react if his French hosts offered him an evening at the Moulin Rouge. But there is a final, more serious point to be made here.  I cannot use the words “cover-up” without thinking of the women in Iran and other Muslim countries being covered, buried, up to their shoulders, before being stoned to death for adultery.  (The rocks used must be bigger than stones but not big enough to kill the victim too early . . .).

Naturally the Iranian President would brand this accusation as absurd and as “political propaganda”.  One must, in fact, be cautious in quoting “facts” here about the 2008 and 2013 Iranian Civil Codes, and about “statistics” like 150 executions by stoning in Iran since 1980.  But lapidation, which Islam inherited from Judaism, has been practised in the Muslim world for centuries, including our own.  Burkas are a joke compared with this.  “Ridenda Religio” ?  Not this time.

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