Violinist in Red Dress Offends Iranian Foreign Minister

Classic Arts News   Violinist in Red Dress Offends Iranian Foreign Minister
The state diplomatic dinner held last week, on May 3, in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh was supposed to have been an important occasion. Both U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki were going to be there, since both were attending an international conference on Iraq at the Red Sea resort, and Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit had hoped the dinner would prompt an informal chat between the two.

But Mottaki never made it to the dinner. He never made it past the lobby of the hotel. He spotted violinist Larissa Abramova playing at the bar, serenading the passing diplomats on the way to the dinner, wearing a red sleeveless dress with matching gloves. And he evidently took offense and left, telling reporters through a translator that there was a problem with "Islamic standards."

A U.S. official in attendance told the Associated Press that Mottaki complained to the Egyptian hosts that the violinist was dressed too immodestly. (This despite the fact that she says she had a scarf over her shoulders and d_colletage.)

"I don't know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red dress or the secretary of state," the AP quotes State Department spokesman Sean McCormack as saying the following day.

Abramova told the AP, "I think the problem [is] not in me and not in my dress. It was some other reason because he left the party." She speculated that Mottaki was perhaps offended by the very relaxed atmosphere of the beach resort, where shorts and bikinis are more prevalent than headscarves.

The following night, Abramova, a Russian-born Ukrainian who has been working in Egypt for three years, switched to black pants and a black top with diaphanous sleeves, according to the AP. She found herself surrounded by reporters and camerman — and felt "a little bit embarrassed," she said.

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