Iran's President vows to soften rules on web censorship, sex discrimination and Islamic dress code

London, July 3 (ANI): Iran's newly elected President, Hassan Rouhani, has expressed relatively progressive views about civil liberties, freedom of expression and the Internet in his first press conference.

According to Rouhani, social networking sites, such as Facebook, were a welcome phenomenon. He added that he opposed segregation of sexes in society and he would work to minimize censorship. He also mentioned Internet filtering is futile.

He further said that Iranians' freedoms and rights have been neglected.

Rouhani has promised to put the Islamic republic back on the path of moderation after eight acrimonious years under the outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He accepted that the country is overshadowed by a specific interpretation of its Islamic character. He also said that due to an imbalance in the principles of the constitution, Iran is facing an imbalance.

When asked about internet filtering, Rouhani said some of the measures taken by the authorities to restrict users' access online are politically motivated. He said that he is concerned about an increased distrust between people and the state.

The Guardian reported that access to several websites is blocked in Iran, including Facebook and Twitter, but millions of Iranians use them via anti-filtering software or virtual private network (VPN) services.

Rouhani also reportedly pledged to minimize censorship of artistic and cultural works and said the state should provide them with security.

On the question of women wearing the hijab, with millions unhappy about the mandatory religious code in the country, Rouhani said he is against the crackdown against women with loose clothing. Rouhani added that he is against these actions mentioning 'a women without a hijab is not necessarily without virtue'.

In his interview with the Guardian, Rouhani said he opposed segregation of men and women and criticised the politicians who are against allowing women to enter stadiums to watch football matches along with men.

Rouhani stressed on freedom of expression and appealed media to act ethically for the benefit of the youth, criticizing the Iran's state television, IRIB for their incompetency in providing fearless and relevant news to the country. (ANI)