Iran’s Khamenei bans online chatting between unrelated men and women

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says such online chatting is a source of immorality

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a religious edict (fatwa) banning online chatting between unrelated men and women, Iranian media reported on Monday, quoting Khamenei’s website:

The ruling came in response to a question sent to the supreme leader on his Website. His answer was: “Given the immorality that often applies to this, it is not permitted.”

The ruling came days after Iranian authorities blocked WeChat, a popular messaging app that enables smart phone users to access online social networks.

The authorities in Tehran are sensitive to social media and have blocked access to many social networking websites, including Facebook and Twitter, used by activists to stage protests after the 2009 controversial presidential vote.

But many Iranian internet users are relying on proxies to circumvent the government censorship.

Ironically, many Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rowhani, have active Facebook and Twitter accounts.

President Rowhani, who has 163,000 followers on Twitter, has pledged to ease state “policing” of people’s private lives.

In November 2013 Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ali Jannati said told the state news agency IRNA that the government should allow access to social-networking websites including Twitter and Facebook,
“Not only Facebook, but other social networks should be accessible and the illegal qualification should be removed,” Jannati said.

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