Iranian conservative judges claimed the app threatens Iran’s security, whereas President Hassan Rouhani has called for better and more transparent rule of law.

Hassan Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani Photo Credit: EPA

In a rare public rift within the ranks of the Iranian government, President Hassan Rouhani has broken with conservative clerical judges who have chosen to ban the popular messaging app Telegram in a declared attempt at protecting national security. Weeks after Russia banned the app, Iran’s Telegram ban comes in the wake of protests throughout the country against growing economic stagnation. Many Iranian politicians and bureaucratic entities utilize Telegram as a central form of communication.

Rouhani posted an Instagram message saying that the banning of Telegram is the “opposite of democracy” because of what he perceived as a “failure to follow legal procedures.” Rouhani’s statements come as a rare moment of the Iranian President publicly breaking with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rouhani has advocated a reform of social laws that actively restrict Iranian day-to-day life.

Telegram was banned after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard discovered it was being used to organize protests, and state television has argued that the app has been used for events that have threatened national security. The directive by the Iranian court can be found below: