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October 15, 2013 12:24 pm

UN Covers Nude Relief Carving in Apparent Deference to Iranian Diplomats

avatar by Zach Pontz

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A screen covers a statue at the UN's Geneva headquarters ahead of meetings with Iran diplomats. Photo: Alain Jourdan.

The United Nations covered up a relief carving of a naked man at its Geneva headquarters on Monday, apparently in deference to the chaste sensibilities of Iranian diplomats set to visit Tuesday for talks regarding the country’s nuclear program, AFP reported.

UN officials would not officially comment on why the wall relief, inspired by Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam,” and donated by Britain to the UN’s forerunner the League of Nations, in 1938, had been masked by a large white screen.

But Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve reported that the aim was to avoid offending the Islamic Republic’s delegation. The larger-than-life relief sits above the entrance to the building’s Council Chamber where the talks are due to take place.

“This is a very dangerous and slippery slope,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of  UN Watch, a human rights group that follows UN decisions, and is based in Geneva.

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“Today the UN is covering up the artistic heritage of its most famous building, Geneva’s historic Palais des Nations, to appease the intolerance of a fundamentalist regime that subjugates women, executes gays, and persecutes Bahais; what will the UN hide tomorrow?” he asked.

Swiss officials declined to address the newspaper’s claim, saying that the aim was to provide a neutral backdrop at the entrance to the meeting hall.

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