Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi provoked outrage in Italy on Monday after trying to convert hundreds of Italian women to Islam.
Gaddafi was in Italy as part of a two-day visit.
Some 700 young women, drafted in by a hostess agency, were invited to two separate events in Rome to listen to the Libyan leader’s religious views.
Each was reportedly paid 70 euros.
There are unconfirmed reports that three of the guests had undergone “spontaneuous conversions.”
The move has led to an angry reaction in Italy’s press and people on the streets of Rome were also displeased.
‘‘It’s not as though we take Gaddafi that seriously. He comes from a particular culture that treats women in this way. It’s pathetic,’‘ one woman said.
Critics accuse Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of sacrificing principles and dignity for trade by welcoming the Libyan leader.
Since 2008, ties have flourished between the two countries.
Italy is now Libya’s biggest trading partner after Rome and Tripoli signed a multi-billion colonial reparations deal.