Iranian presidential debate focuses on culture

June 5, 2013 at 12:32 PM

TEHRAN, June 5 (UPI) -- Iranians can counter Western influences and strengthen their own nation through a better understanding of Iranian culture, a presidential candidate said.

The eight candidates approved to run in the Iranian presidential election debated for the second time Wednesday. The debate focused on art and cultural issues in Iran.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty published an English-language live blog of the candidates' comments during the debate. Candidate Mohammad Reza Aref was quoted as saying authorities should work to ensure "immoral information" wasn't getting into Iran from the Internet.

Former nuclear negotiator Hasssan Rohani, however, countered by saying "censorship kills creativity."

Iran is accused by the United States of restricting Internet access ahead of the June 14 election.

Iranians can "combat the Western cultural invasion only when they fully understand their own culture first," former Speaker of Parliament Gholam Ali Haddad Adel was quoted by RFE/RL as saying.

The 12-member Guardian Council approved eight candidates out of a pool of around 700 who registered for the election. Iranian leaders said a high voter turnout would send a signal of national strength to the international community.

Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is ineligible to compete because of term limits.

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