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Middle East

Iran leader urges clerics to accept Internet

President Hassan Rouhani urges clerics to be more tolerant and lift restrictions on new technologies and the Internet.

Last updated: 01 Sep 2014 20:42
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In recent weeks the government has allowed more Iranian operators to provide 3G services [AP]

Iran's president has urged the country's clerics to be more tolerant of the Internet and new technologies, which are often the target of criticism by influential conservative religious leaders in the Islamic Republic.

Hassan Rouhani made the appeal during a meeting with clerics in Tehran on Monday, where he said that the Internet is important for aspiring students and experts trying to access new knowledge and science.

"In today's world, one who does not know the Internet and does not use it is called an expert or even a student," he said in a speech broadcast on state television.

"We cannot close the gates of the world for the younger generation."

Rouhani, a relative moderate elected last year, has vowed to expand media and Internet freedoms but has faced resistance from clerics, who oppose, for example, third generation (3G) mobile-phone network technology, saying that it paves the way for immoral images.

In recent weeks, however, the government has allowed more Iranian operators to provide 3G services, the AP news agency reported.

Authorities have banned many social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube after the opposition used them during post-election protests in 2009.

But youths and technology-literate Iranians use proxy servers or other workarounds to bypass the controls.

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