Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iran may be quick to clamp down on internet freedoms, but President Hassan Rouhani doesn't believe that the country should cut itself off from the rest of the planet -- just the opposite. In a speech this weekend, he argued that it was crucial for young Iranians to have internet access. It isn't right to "close the gates of the world" to youth and deny them access to science, he says. He even went so far as to argue that supporting mobile internet service (which recently opened up in Iran) was inevitable; if the nation didn't embrace the technology now, it would have to before long.

Whether or not Rouhani gets his way is unclear. Iran's clerics still see the internet (particularly on mobile) as a vehicle for immorality, and they still have a lot of sway over local politics. It's also doubtful that the country will make an about-face on censorship any time in the near future, even if the President gets what he wants. Still, the speech is significant in a nation that frequently blocks the internet first and asks questions later -- Iranians who want better internet access clearly have a big ally in their corner.

[Image credit: Behrouz Mehri via Getty Images]