In Ongoing Debate, Iran’s Police Chief Appears To Shame Iranian Officials Who Use Social Media

Iran’s police chief called out officials who “crossed red lines” by using banned social media networks — a direct assault on the Iranian president and foreign minister who each have a popular online presence.

“By violating the law (themselves), the officials should bear in mind that their actions should not pave the way for others to violate the law,” Police Chief Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghaddam said, according to the Agence France-Presse.

The police chief’s comments were the latest in an ongoing public conversation in Iran.

Last month, the country’s minister of culture and Islamic guidance, Ali Jannati, called for the legalization of social media. Jannati does not have the legal authority to remove the restrictions, but his comments were widely covered in the Iranian press.

This week, judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie reportedly insinuated that Iran would consider allowing access to Facebook if the network complied with Iran state censors, according to an Iranian human rights group. The official IRNA news agency quoted Ejeie as saying that his department opposed Facebook, as it “promotes corruption and prostitution and publishes articles against public chastity.”

The Financial Times reported on the context:

Asked how he could have a Twitter account (and a very active one) when the site is one of many that are blocked in Iran, he deflects the question with humour.

“You can do it even now,” he tells his visitors, as the hall packed with aides erupts into laughter. Then, shifting to a serious tone, he suggests that this is the kind of problem that he should be able to resolve soon.

Meanwhile, Rouhani continues to battle with conservatives in Iran who oppose his political platforms. Earlier Tuesday, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad invited Rouhani to a public debate over what Ahmadinejad called “baseless and unfair accusations” that he is largely responsible for the country’s economic ills. Rouhani has reportedly accepted the invitation, according to a chief advisor quoted in Al Monitor, “with the condition that the former president accepts the condition of observing the truth.”

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