Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani

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N ewly 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 woman 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.

Is Has­san Rouhani’s elec­tion a new dawn for Iran?

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.” help New Delhi ar­rest the sharp de­cline in the value of the ru­pee ver­sus the dol­lar, and ben­e­fit Tehran, which has been badly hit by uni­lat­eral sanc­tions mar­shalled by the United States. For the first time since April, the Man­ga­lore Re­fin­ery and Petro­chem­i­cals Ltd. ( MRPL) has re­ceived 85,000 met­ric tonnes of Ira­nian crude. Bloomberg quoted MRPL man­ag­ing di­rec­tor P.P. Upad­hya as say­ing the cargo had been com­ply­ing with the sanc­tions, there may be more space for im­ports from Iran,” said Mr. Chi­dambaram. Iran’s Fars News Agency had ear­lier re­ported that In­dia and Iran had ex­plored av­enues to bol­ster their en­ergy ties dur­ing talks, late in May, be­tween Iran’s vis­it­ing for­mer Oil Min­is­ter Rostam Qassemi and his In­dian coun­ter­part, M. Veerappa Moily. In­dia com­plies with U.N. sanc­tions, but has, in line with emerg­ing


Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani

Ira­nian Oil Min­is­ter Bi­jan Nam­dar Zan­ganeh (L) meets In­dian

Am­bas­sador to Tehran Shri D P Srivastava

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