Two cultures have clashed as Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, plans the first visit to Europe by an Iranian president in more than a decade. French media report that Rouhani rejected a dinner invitation from French president Francois Hollande, after the Elysée presidential palace insisted on serving wine at the event. The French dinner staple is forbidden by Islam, and Rouhani refused to attend a meal where alcohol was served.
According to French radio station RTL (link in French), the Iranian delegation requested a halal meal, with no wine bottles on the table. But the French, who pride themselves on both world-famous wines and secular values, reportedly refused, citing the country’s “republican traditions.” When a breakfast meeting was suggested as an alternative, the Iranians said this was “too cheap” for their president.
And thus it appears that Rouhani, who will discuss Syria and the terrorist threat with Hollande, will be met with a red carpet, followed by two hours of conversation, but sans snacks.