Skip to main content

Rouhani battles judiciary over Internet censorship

President Hassan Rouhani has defied the judiciary's orders to block WhatsApp in his ongoing campaign to expand his base by opening up the Internet.
Technicians monitor data flow in the control room of an internet service provider in Tehran February 15, 2011. . Websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and countless others were banned shortly after the re-election of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the huge street protests that followed. Seen by the government as part of a "soft war" waged by the enemies of the Islamic Republic, social networking and picture sharing sites were a vital communication tool for the anti-Ahmadinejad opposition -- mor

Conflicts over Internet filtering and citizen involvement online has once again reached the highest levels of power in Iran. The president, head of the judiciary, the prosecutor-general and a number of right-wing media outlets have openly addressed the situation, with most of the criticism aimed at President Hassan Rouhani.

The recent round of disagreement over the presence of Iranians online began May 17 during the National Communications and Information Technology Festival. Rouhani defended the Iranian people's online activity and criticized the harsh policies of imposing limitations on the Internet. "In this country, we recognize our citizens' right to connect to the World Wide Web," he said. "We do not actually come face-to-face with other people. Yet, the effects of cyberspace are quite visible on society and the country. It even influences people's lifestyle."

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.