Iran: Facebook 'banned' for moral reasons

Tehran, 25 May (AKI) - One of Iran's four presidential candidates said on Monday that the popular social networking site Facebook was banned in the country for moral not political reasons. Iran's official labour news agency ILNA had said Facebook was banned so that Iranian users could not spread propaganda about moderate candidate and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi.

He is thought to be the main rival of current hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"As far as I know the blocking of this website was due to problems of morality but during this pre-election period, many issues are interpreted as political," opposition and reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi said in a briefing to the media in the Iranian capital,Tehran.

Moussavi - who is supported by ILNA - is one of the four presidential candidates approved by the Iranian electoral watchdog or Guardian Council, out of an original 450 candidates. They will stand for election in the country's upcoming polls on 12 June.

Earlier this year, Facebook had been unblocked by the Iranian judiciary but was again disabled last Saturday. ILNA claims the action was a political move against Moussavi by Ahmadinejad.

The other candidates include incumbent president Ahmadinejad, who is seeking a second term in office, and Mohsen Rezaie, current secretary of Iran's top political arbitration body, the Expediency Council, and former war veteran.

Iran's Guardian Council is an unelected religious oversight body that vets all electoral candidates and assesses their moral values and support for the country's system of Islamic government.

More than 46 million Iranians are eligible to take part in the presidential election on 12 June.


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