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President Hassan Rouhani meets university students in Tehran on June 12.
President Hassan Rouhani meets university students in Tehran on June 12.

Need to Strive for a Tolerant Society

The May 19 vote did not merely present a choice between two or more individuals, but a choice between two different approaches

Need to Strive for a Tolerant Society

President Hassan Rouhani has underlined the need to promote greater political and ethnic tolerance in society.
Identifying the root causes of domestic “ethnic, gender-related and political disputes”, Rouhani said, “Some people do not have tolerance. If we want to develop our country, we should raise the threshold of our tolerance and respect divergent views.”
Speaking at a fast-breaking dinner with university students in Tehran on Sunday, he said, “It is unfair to think that whatever we say or believe is right and what others say or believe is wrong. This would mean a lack of tolerance toward different opinions and beliefs,” he was quoted by his official website as saying.
Rouhani first came to office in 2013 on a platform to kick-start an economy fraught with a litany of problems due to mismanagement and international economic sanctions. He fronted the negotiations with the six major powers leading to a landmark nuclear deal in July 2015 that swapped temporary curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program for sanctions relief.
Rouhani’s conservative opponents claim that his negotiating team conceded too much to the US-led western powers and have piled pressure on him to show proof that the “compromise” over the nuclear energy program is worth the  “benefits” enshrined in the deal under his watch.
They also oppose Rouhani’s reform plans and resume trade with overseas businesses, fearing that the opening might be exploited by western adversaries to “undermine the values and principles” of the revolution and republic.
The much hoped-for economic revival has been slow in the wake of the sanctions relief because deals with western investors are few and far between as major companies and financial institutions have so far stayed away fearing penalties from remaining US non-nuclear sanctions.

  Stronger Mandate
The alleged poor economic performance of the government and the unprofitable pact were seized upon by Rouhani’s conservative rivals to rage a bitter campaign against his bid for reelection last month.
But he ultimately won the race with 57% of the vote.
Rouhani’s election victory, observers say, has strengthened his hand to push through reforms to bring greater social freedoms and foster foreign trade (among his election promises).
“The May 19 election did not merely present a choice between two or more individuals, but a choice between two different approaches,” the president told the students, adding that the path that the people chose will dominate the government’s future policy.

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