Newly elected President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, said that the rights and freedom of Iranians had been ignored in the past and that he wanted a better progressive environment in the country.
In his outspoken interview in weekly Iranian social magazine, Chelcheragh, Rouhani said that he didn’t support strict internet censorship as his predecessors and opposed segregation and discrimination based on gender.
We shall now discuss why these two things in particular are good for Iran:
His Stance On Women Discrimination:
Rouhani said in the interview, “If a women or a man does not comply with our rules for clothing, his or her virtue should not come under question … In my view, many women in our society who do not respect our hijab laws are virtuous. Our emphasis should be on the virtue.”
Although women in Iran are thought to be much more “liberal” than the ones living in Middle East, they still face a lot of discrimination in their country. The most recent example of it is the cancellation of women candidates running for presidency in this year’s elections. The constitutionally powerful Guardian Council announced that a woman is not allowed to be the president of Iran according to the country’s laws.
Also, last month an Iranian human rights organization (HRNA) reported that Isfahan University of Technology announced ‘new policies’ and changes in their graduate programs which include a ban on female students from studying in seven different engineering fields.
And it wasn’t the first time such a ban was placed on female students in Iran. Last year, thirty-six universities across the country banned women from 77 different majors, including accounting, counseling, and engineering.
In 2011, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad took steps to promote government-approved apparel for women that were “Islamic and beautiful” at the same time. The effort garnered a lot of criticism from Iranian women who thought that the government was trying to impose its excessive control on the lives of the female population.
So, it’s a good sign that Rouhani even “acknowledges” that there are restrictions on women and they need to be changed.
His Stance On Web Censorship And Television:
While shedding some light on the issue of web censorship, Rouhani said, “In the age of digital revolution, one cannot live or govern in quarantine.” He also realized, “Filtering has not even stopped people from accessing unethical [a reference to pornographic] websites. Widespread online filtering will only increase distrust between people and the state.”
Iranian authorities have conducted harsh crackdown on Iranians owning satellite dishes in the past which millions have installed on rooftops for access to foreign-based TV channels illegal in the country. Iran banned social networking websites such as Facebook and also made a local version of video streaming site YouTube called “Mehr.”
In March this year, Iran introduced a government Internet filter that prevents Iranians from accessing many sites on the official grounds if they are offensive or criminal.
It’s certainly good news for the Iranians if Rouhani intends to soften web censorship and when he says that the Iranian government should not “tighten the red lines all the time” and “censorship shouldn’t be a goal” for the authorities. But it remains to be seen whether he applies his words in his policies or not once he assumes office in early August.
When Hassan Rouhani was elected as the successor to Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, liberal Iranians were extremely happy as he was the only “comparatively” moderate candidate left in the race for presidency. To know more about his election and why is he considered to be a “change” in Iranian politics, click here.