The opening of business and diplomatic ties between Iran and a number of Western countries following last year’s nuclear deal hasn’t come without its share of cultural complications.
In January, charges of appeasement rang out across Italy after nude statues were mysteriously covered up at a museum during a state visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “When in Rome, do as the Persian do,” read one contribution to a viral critique of the episode on social media.
That same week, French President François Hollande canceled a lunch with an Iranian delegation over an objection to the requisite serving of wine at the meal. “Nobody should constrain anybody to drink or not to drink,” griped France’s ambassador to the United States on Twitter. (France later offered a breakfast truce, but Iran rejected it.)
This week, France has encountered another diplomatic crisis with the Islamic Republic after Air France flight attendants protested a rule that would force female workers to wear headscarves upon arrival in Tehran, where the French national carrier is starting thrice-a-week route later this month. The requirement, which conforms to Iran’s religious-modesty standards, would also oblige female flight attendants to wear a long-sleeved jacket and pants, eliminating the option of a knee-length dress.