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Iranian parliamentary speaker calls for exporting Islam via internet

TEHRAN, May 18 (AFP) - Iran's conservative speaker of parliament has proposed enlisting the internet as a tool to propagate "pure Islam."

"We must present pure Islam to the world via the internet and demonstrate the correctness of our religion," Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri told telecommunications officials, the Kayhan newspaper reported Tuesday.

"We have concluded that the utilisation of the internet is indispensable for our country", he said, adding that there was unanimous support for this among Iranian officials.

After years of resistance, the internet was recently legalised in the Islamic republic -- and a cybercafe opened in Tehran late last year -- although its use remains strictly regulated.

Tehran also boasts a huge private shopping centre specializing in imported computer equipment.

The country's first purely electronic newspaper hit the web in February, while a number of other publications have their own homepages.

Nateq-Nuri's call is not the first time the religious establishment has overcome its reticence to exploit the new medium.

In March Tehran's mosque administration centre announced plans to use cyberspace to give out information about mosques, imams and theologicial and cultural research.

The Iranian government has put the complete works of the Islamic republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, on the web, and even the arch-conservative seminary in the holy city of Qom is training its mullahs to surf the Net.


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