“Try me:” Rouhani warns judiciary prosecuting telecoms minister

“Try me” Rouhani warns judiciary prosecuting telecoms minister

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasted the country’s judicial body this week over its prosecution of Iran’s telecoms minister following his alleged refusal of blocking Instagram and other social media sites.

Rouhani – who’s considered a moderate within the Islamic Republic – questioned the judiciary’s move during a cabinet meeting held on Jan 27, arguing that “while lack of control over the content published on the social media service is present, a flat out ban on the site would be misguided,” he told reporters.

“If you want to try someone, then try me,” he added, as he noted that the improvement of the country’s Internet bandwidth was made by his orders.

“These days, the Internet is like oxygen for people…to want to restrict it would be absolutely wrong…. How else can we expect people to do everything from home and teach their children online during the pandemic?” he asked.

While telecoms minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi has been released on bail, the move reflects the ongoing political struggle between moderates and conservatives, as Iran’s presidential elections edges ever closer in June.

Many conservative hardliners – spread out within parliament, judiciary, and other powerful bodies – consider social media sites and instant messaging apps as a form of soft power deployed by the West against the Islamic Republic’s core values.

It is worth mentioning that several websites and social media platforms are barred in Iran, which include YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram, however, many citizens bypass the digital blockade using VPN services.