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Social and cultural issues were a contentious part of Iranian politics even before the Islamic Republic.The 1979 revolution brought a mix of revolutionary egalitarianism, social conservatism and Iranian nationalism. Hassan Rouhani had no roller skating young women in his rather low-key campaign last year, and said his priorities as president would be tackling Iran's mounting economic problems and undertaking diplomatic initiatives to lower international tension, especially over Iran's nuclear program.But Rouhani has quietly taken up where the reformist former president, Mohammad Khatami, left off in 2005 in trying to relax cultural and educational restrictions. In a speech in January Rouhani said that "without freedom art is meaningless, and it is impossible to be creative without liberty". He has frequently used Facebook and Twitter, both restricted in Iran. Although a ban on music introduced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini at the time of the revolution was largely rescinded within a decade, state television still does not show musical instruments being played, although concerts are common otherwise.In an article published in June, dissident journalist Akbar Ganji documented the views of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, whose support for Rouhani over the economy and the nuclear talks does not extend to laxity over culture.According to Ganji, the supreme leader and president have differing approaches to what may include the most fundamental responsibilities of the Islamic Republic.
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