Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, a conservative Islamic cleric and chairman of the Imam Khomeini Research and Education Institute in Qom, said the Internet is rife with dangers and temptations that lead to family problems. He urged seminaries to be vigilant, according to the Mehr news agency.
"If a young student surfs the Internet until late in the night and is not looking for 'scientific subjects,' or if he watches movies and forgets his morning praying, he cannot become a pious man," the ayatollah said.
Mesbah-Yazdi's comments follow warnings last week by another important cleric, who said he worried about a "tremor of non-religiosity in Iranian society. ... The only way to stay safe is relying on the holy book, the Koran."
But Saeed Allahbedashti, an activist and son of a well-known reformist cleric, said: "Unfortunately, 32 years after the Islamic revolution, some top clergymen suppose there is conflict between prayers at night, remembering God and using the Internet. They do not want to realize that a new practicing Muslim generation has emerged in Iran and is using Facebook and other social networks."
He added: "This new generation remembers God at night and observes all Islamic rituals. The Islamic revolution occurred in the context of modernity in Iran, and any practicing Muslim can embrace all kinds of modern tools and technology while maintaining his or her faith in Islam."
-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran
Photo: An Iranian cleric in a courtyard of a holy shrine in Qom. Credit: Reuters