A handout picture provided by the office of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani show him attending on January 1, 2018 a meeting with heads of parliamentary commissions in the capital Tehran. AFP PHOTO / HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY
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Protests that shook Iran were not just aimed at the economy, President Hassan Rouhani said Monday, remarks suggesting the real targets were powerful conservatives opposed to his plans to expand individual freedoms at home and promote detente abroad.Rouhani won re-election last year by promising more jobs for Iran's youth through more foreign investment, as well as more social justice, individual freedom and political tolerance -- aims questioned by his main challenger in the contest.Echoing some of his campaign rhetoric, Rouhani said on Monday people should be allowed to criticize all Iranian officials, with no exception.Rouhani also dismissed calls from hardline religious scholars who had asked the government to permanently block access social media and messaging apps.Iranian Vice-President Masoumeh Ebtekar tweeted on Monday that Rouhani has insisted that all detained students should be released.
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