Iran: Rowhani takes moderate message to clerics

Iranian president-elect Hassan Rowhani. Picture: AFP/ Getty

Iranian president-elect Hassan Rowhani. Picture: AFP/ Getty

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President-elect Hassan Rowhani has called for the government and powerful clergy to end interference in the private lives of the Iranian people, free up internet access and allow state media to be more open about Iran’s problems.

Mr Rowhani’s comments began to flesh out his message of moderation at home and better relations abroad that contributed to his surprise election
victory last month.

His election prompted a huge outpouring of support from Iranians hungry for change after eight years of domestic security crackdowns and international confrontation under hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“There shouldn’t be any rift or division between the government or the clergy especially at a time when people have pinned their hopes on seeing some sort of change in society,” Mr Rowhani, a mid-ranking cleric, told fellow clergymen in Tehran
yesterday.

“A strong government does not mean a government that interferes and intervenes in all affairs. It is not a government that limits the lives of people. This is not a strong government,” said Mr Rowhani who takes office early next month.

“The power of the government lies in improving popular trust and … offering services, decreasing problems, setting the stage for further development of all citizens to help meet the needs of the people and desire for change,” he said in an address aired on state television.

During his election campaign, Mr Rowhani demanded a loosening of the “security atmosphere” and yesterday signalled what steps he wanted to see taken.

Filtering of the internet in Iran, stepped up after social media was used to encourage and coordinate large protests following the disputed 2009 presidential election, had proved ineffective, Mr Rowhani said, fittingly, on Twitter.

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