Tuesday, August 20, 2019 01:52

Candidates debate cultural issues in new format

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The second round of presidential candidate debates was aired on Iranian state television on June 5 with a focus on cultural and social issues.

The session opened with the moderator indicating changes in the debate format. The structure of the first debate had been widely criticized by some of the candidates as well as some media outlets.

In the second session, each candidate got a chance to present his points and later the other candidates were given a chance to critique their peers’ statements.

In the second part of the debate, rather than presenting the candidates with quiz questions, this time the candidates would draw questions and answer them within a two-minute time limit.

During the debate, Mohammadreza Aref was highly critical of the atmosphere of security taking hold over universities and the restrictions put on professors who wish to take part in international conferences.

Hassan Rohani criticized cultural parochialism and called for an opening of the cultural arena.

Mohsen Rezai spoke out against “political interference” in national sports endeavours.

Saeed Jalili spoke out against the separation of cultural issues and political concerns, saying: “This is a tactic that keeps people from engaging with the cultural capacity of society.” Jalili also referred to women’s place in society and emphasized his belief in the role of women in the family.

Gholamali Haddad Adel said, “Islamic culture should be held up as the standard” and he referred to foreign satellite programs as an affront to the foundation of the family.

Ali Akbar Velayati spoke in support of the privatization of national sports.

Mohammadbgher Ghalibaf denounced the way in which Iranian culture is restricted by security concerns, saying “artistic creation cannot become coercive.”

Mohammad Gharazi said culture cannot be imposed by the government and every administration that tries to do so is bound to fail.