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IRAN - TOP RELIGIOUS LEADER BANS ONLINE CHATTING BETWEEN MEN & WOMEN NOT RELATED

By Sara Malm Ė January 8, 2014

The religious leader of Iran has banned online chatting between men and women who are not related.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published a fatwa against the practice - on his own website - branding it 'immoral'.

Ayatollah Khamenei's religious ruling followed a recent ban of a popular messaging app for smartphones used by millions to connect.

Banning immorality: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published a fatwa on his website calling online chatting between men and women who are not related 'immoral'

Banning immorality: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published a fatwa on his website calling online chatting between men and women who are not related 'immoral'

The Ayatollah was asked about intersex online chatting, to which he replied: 'Given the immorality that often applies to this, it is not permitted.'

Days earlier, Iranian authorities blocked WeChat, an app similar to WhatsApp with more than 100 million users that enables access to social networks.

Both Facebook and Twitter, as well as other social networks, are banned in Iran.

Despite this ban, many Teheran officials have both Facebook and Twitter accounts, including President Hassan Rowhani who has 163,000 followers on Twitter.

Many Iranians also circumvent the ban by using proxy servers to access social networks.

'Itís not the social sites that scare them, itís people connecting,' Azadeh, 34, from Tehran told FoxNews. 'Thatís always been their fear.'

In November 2013 Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ali Jannati said told the state news agency IRNA that the government should allow access to social-networking websites including Twitter and Facebook,

'Not only Facebook, but other social networks should be accessible and the illegal qualification should be removed,' Jannati said.

However, any plans to unblock the communication channels were rubbished by Iranian Telecommunications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi earlier last year.

'The ban on networks such as Facebook and Twitter was not supposed to be lifted,' he told local news.