ROME (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in Rome for a U.N. food summit, spent several hours in the company of 200 Italian women recruited by an agency and tried to convert them to Islam, Italian media reported on Monday.
“Seeking 500 attractive girls between 18 and 35 years old, at least 1.70 meters (5 foot, 7 inches) tall, well-dressed but not in mini-skirts or low cut dresses,” read the ad by the Hostessweb agency and quoted in Italy’s Corriere dell Sera newspaper in its story.
Some 200 women showed up at a Rome villa, having been told they would receive 60 euros ($90) and “some Libyan gifts.” Among them was an undercover reporter for Italian news agency ANSA, who took photos and described the evening’s proceedings.
Most had expected to attend a party, according to ANSA, but instead were invited to wait in a large hall until the arrival of Gaddafi, who gave them a lesson on Libya and the role of women in Islam.
After around two hours the lesson, including questions and answers through an interpreter, concluded with an exhortation by Gaddafi to “convert to Islam” and with each woman given a copy of the Koran and a book of sayings by Gaddafi.
“It was anything but the VIP party we were expecting, they didn’t even give us a glass of water,” one woman told ANSA.
Others said they were offended by what they considered anti-Christian aspects of his lesson, including a claim that Jesus was not crucified but that “someone who looked like him” was put to death in his place.
The Libyan ambassador told ANSA that Gaddafi was planning other similar evenings during his three-day stay for the summit.