The Islamic Republic’s culture minister discusses political change, media freedom and Iran’s role in the region.
There is change in the air in Tehran. Weapons inspectors are checking on nuclear installations as part of the interim nuclear agreement that Iran signed in Geneva.
President Hassan Rouhani is making more room for freedom of the press for the publishing sector and the film industry and we are trying to create a more open atmosphere for artists.
But now, attention is also turning to the domestic side where something just as big and potentially as far reaching is happening in the fields of media freedom, social networks, the film industry and the arts.
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After years of restrictions the new regime seems determined to challenge the more authoritarian policies of the past – at least that is what a new and very influential Iranian minister tells us.
Iran’s new Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Ali Jannati, is calling for the lifting of blocks on social networks, and tells presenter Stephen Cole that he wants Facebook for everyone.
“With the cooperation of other ministers we are now trying to create a condition where everyone in Iran has access to Facebook which is a way for people to communicate, keep in touch and exchange ideas … I think right now many Iranians are using Facebook …. Sooner or later this restriction must be lifted,” Jannati says.
This is even more remarkable considering his father is the head of the conservative Guardian Council in Iran, a body that many critics see as the barrier to more freedom and openness.
So is the new government really going to allow freedom of speech in Iran? And how will the conservative side respond?
“Certainly there are elements inside Iran who are opposed to any kind of talks with the West, I believe that after signing of the agreement and considering the broad support that the people of Iran have given the president, these elements have retreated to a great extent,” says Jannati.
Ali Jannati, Iran’s new minister of culture and Islamic guidance, talks to Al Jazeera about censorship, freedom of speech, sanctions and political change in Iran.