Baku, Azerbaijan, March 8
By Umid Niayesh, Saeed Isayev - Trend:
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has called for freedom of expression and thought in the country, Iranian state IRINN TV reported on March 8.
Rouhani made the remarks in a speech at the closing ceremony of the 20th Press Festival in Tehran.
He went on to say that free circulation of the information, freedom of writing, expression and thought will secure country's development.
"Closed society suffers from lack of public confidence. In closed society people will follow the foreigner information resources," Rouhani said, adding that "we should secure the speech and writing freedom in the country and explain the realities to the people."
It should be noted that in Dec. 2013, Iran's culture minister, Ali Jannati said that more than 70 percent of people of capital city Tehran watch banned satellite channels.
Hassan Rouhani also remarked that freedom of expression should be based on every country's historical, religious and social circumstances.
"Iranian administration believes the "responsibly freedom," Rouhani noted. "In all societies its values and principles should be respected by all people."
National, religious, even ethnic values should be respected as these are sensitive issues, he remarked.
Commenting on Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's concerns about the cultural issues, Rouhani said that it has been 35 years already since the revolution in Iran, and yet there are remaining concerns on social issues.
On March 6, Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed concerns about current cultural issues in the country, saying that the officials should pay attention to the "religious and revolutionary culture."
On the other hand, some conservatives in Iran criticize President Hassan Rouhani`s cultural policy, saying the policies are violating Islamic values.
Rouhani remarked that if pressure was effective for resolving the problem, "we would not be concerned about the cultural issues today".
He also underlined that his administration and the ministry of culture share only little part in the country's cultural issues.
"The entities which are not controlled by the administration benefit from the allocations to social issues a lot more than the administration, which has its own cultural issues budget, without unveiling the names of entities.
He also emphasized that budget balance should be created between the private media, and the media which are using country's public budget.
Rouhani also said that the cultural issues should be managed by those who are involved in cultural activities.
He also remarked that the rules in the cultural area should be transparent, and criticized the closure of newspapers, saying that closure should be the last step as far as punishing goes.
"If a journalist commits a crime, it is not right way to punish all the staff of the newspaper, by closing it," the president said.
He also seriously criticized the media which "are untouchable" and are not responsible to anybody, not even the administration and judiciary.
These media act as higher power towards the administration, parties and even people, he said adding that all media in the country should have equal rights and security.
"Why the media which criticizes the administration, even insult it, are free and the media which supports the administration, don't have the same freedom and security," he added.
"Let the media which are accompanying the administration have the same freedom and security," Rouhani said.