Protecting, not limiting, people can show the government’s craftsmanship

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President Rouhani has stressed the need for tolerance in society and said people from all walks of life are entitled to freely express their demands and complaints.

The Iranian president says that imposing restrictions on people is not a feat, adding that providing people with protection is the fine craftsmanship of a government.

President Rouhani made the remark in a ceremony Monday to appreciate teachers across the nation and added the government is doing what needs to be done to offer quality and inexpensive education to the Iranian youth.

The president also hit back at those who raised ballyhoo about his comments that police have a duty to enforce the law, not Islamic rules, saying those who carry weapons around to enforce the law cannot be asked to make judgments about what is religiously correct and what is not.

The following is a partial translation of the president’s remarks as reported by the Iranian Students’ News Agency:

[…]

[In remarks which were believed to be targeting a ban by the Education Ministry on teaching foreign languages in the capital’s schools, both state and private] The president took a swipe at the strict limitations imposed on schools and said, “I don’t know the reason for rigorous restrictions in schools. We do not let students learn a foreign language at school, but students know that it [learning a foreign language] is a necessity for today’s life so they go to private language schools to pick it up”.

Today science is taught through certain languages, Rouhani said, adding one cannot make it to the depths of knowledge if they are not equipped with those languages.

[…]

As for art, Rouhani said, “Some restrictions are imposed in schools and we argue that schools are not a good place for these [artistic] works. But the youth like the art […] You cannot tie their hands. If you padlock the art classes, students try other ways to learn it. School is not the only place for learning. Family, media, cyberspace and society can offer lessons for the youths to learn from.

“We need to explore the ways we can establish contact [with the youth] and the ways the Education Ministry can take up a leadership role. We are always trying to limit the youth, […] but we should offer them protection. […]”.

President Rouhani said that the government is trying to offer cost-effective, quality education to the youths, adding if we can train powerful and protected people, we can say that we have done a great job.

The president then addressed the teachers and said, “The government is your servant and is not separate from you. We used to be the students of these teachers in society. The government has done what it takes to be helpful. This government respects and recognizes the right of people from all walks of life to protest.

“You saw this year the laborers came to the streets and staged [May Day] rallies and this has been unprecedented in the past several years. […] I was told that workers would pour to the streets, express their views and voice their complaints. We need to have [political] openness and tolerance.

“I do recognize teachers’ right to protest because they are respectful. We know there are problems, so do they. This government has done many things to the best of its ability, although it is still far from satisfactory. The Education Ministry’s budget was around $4 billion (12,000 billion tomans) four years ago; this year the ministry’s budget stands at about $8 billion (24,000 billion tomans)”.

Despite the fact that the country has slipped into a budget deficit, oil prices have halved and sanctions still remain in place, the government has tried its best to pay off its [material and spiritual] debts to those involved in the education system, the president further said. […]

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