President of Iran urges clerics to embrace virtues of the Internet

In a state speech Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Islamic Republic clerics, that unless they learn to embrace the Internet and new technologies they risk the youths intelligence and opportunity. He described the Internet as the "gates of our world" that "we cannot close...to our younger generation."

Rouhani highlighted the inevitability of high-speed internet coming to Iran and that they should begin the process now, saying: "If we do not move towards the new generation of mobile today and resist it, we will have to do it tomorrow. If not, the day after tomorrow."

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It's likely the comment was made in response to President Rouhani recently awarding 3G licences to three mobile broadband companies in an effort to make Iran more connected. Rouhani has faced considerably opposition with many believing the Internet, and more specifically social media, to be immoral.

Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi posted a statement (ironically) on his website, in which he placed a fatwa against high speed communications: "All third generation [3G] and high-speed internet services, prior to realization of the required conditions for the National Information Network [Iran's government-controlled and censored Internet], is against Sharia [and] against moral and human standards."

Use of the Internet is an issue that divides many. The authorities often throttle the Internet speed to render it effectively useless to discourage use.

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The Iranian government's attitude toward the Internet and media has been wary since the 2009 protests largely facilitated by social media.