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Security, Freedom of Press,  Information Top Priorities

Ali Reza Bakhtiari, publisher and managing director of Financial Tribune and Donya-e-Eqtesad briefs President Hassan Rouhani at the fair in Tehran on Nov. 15. Ali Reza Bakhtiari, publisher and managing director of Financial Tribune and Donya-e-Eqtesad briefs President Hassan Rouhani at the fair in Tehran on Nov. 15.

The 22nd Press Exhibition opened at Imam Khomeini Grand Mosalla in Tehran on Saturday in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani and the newly-appointed Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Reza Salehi-Amiri.

"Certainly, the press and media are the means to convey the people's thoughts to the ruling establishment and inform the masses about the decisions of the government, and thereby prepare the ground for the development of society," the president said.

Pointing to the unstable and critical conditions of some countries in the Middle East, the president said, "we are in a situation wherein responsibility of the press is felt more than ever before. Today our region is facing security challenges as some fanatic groups with a twisted understanding of Islam are destroying Islam, Muslims and the region.

"In such circumstances and in the face of such threats, we need (sustainable) security. There could well be different interpretations about security. One may say security can be ensured via the foreign policy skills of a nation. Another can claim that military power and a deterrent force will ensure security."

Elaborating on the blessing of security in the country in the chaotic region, Rouhani said," Today security in the society and country is attributable to the awakening, awareness and cohesion at the domestic level."

He said forging solidarity between ethnic and religious groups is also the function of the media and they are expected to help promote peace and tranquility in society along with national and social cohesion.

Rouhani, however, went on to say that if media outlets are concerned about their own survival and security, how can they possibly create and contribute to national security. "A mouth that is shut and a broken pen are of no use. Let's not break the pens on flimsy grounds or shut the mouths for trivial and insignificant reasons. Let there be freedom in society, a responsible freedom."

Highlighting the role and influence of the media, the president said, "The media indeed plays an essential role in shaping the people's thoughts. We cannot say we do not want cyberspace. It is the people who make the decisions in a religious democracy with their vote, directly or indirectly."

The government is preparing a bill so that similar to the medical system and healthcare, there will also be a media system so that "Professional misconduct in the press and media can be handled in their own system not in a court" of law.

Over 900 Iranian media, including newspapers, journals, news agencies and press organizations are attending the annual event. This year, the participants have increased by 30% compared to last year.

Former culture minister, Ali Jannati (who resigned last month) Deputy Culture Minister for Press and Information Affairs Hussein Entezami, cultural officials and managing directors of different sections of the media attended the opening ceremony.

On the sidelines of the event, meetings with representatives of the international media, workshops, startups and sessions on developments of the day will be held. There will also be four photo exhibits on ‘Sacred Defense’, ‘Environment’, ‘Iran and South Korea’ and ‘Iran in the Past Year’.

‘Transparency and Honesty’ is the slogan of this year's edition. The week-long event will run through November 11.

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