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Rouhani unblocks Telegram; hard-liners send message

Iran’s president is under fire from hard-liners for unblocking a popular messaging app.
A man uses his smartphone to follow election news in Tehran, Iran May 17, 2017. REUTERS/TIMA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RC18C545D440

Amid the recent unrest in Iran, the government decided to block Telegram — the most popular messaging application in the country, with more than 40 million users — to stop the chaos from spreading. As calm returned, President Hassan Rouhani ordered the app unblocked, a decision that was met with harsh criticism by the judiciary and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary, slammed the government Jan. 15, saying at a meeting with high-ranking judiciary officials, “Figures who care about the establishment know well that the enemy’s [activities] can be effective through cyberspace. During the recent events, all security agencies acknowledged that [a number of] people were provoked to riot by a messaging application [Telegram], and they were trained to build bombs through the same app. What kind of parents would really accept that their child be incited to set the flag of the country on fire or set a building ablaze? Therefore, we believe that we should not open the way for the enemy.”

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