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Iran has caught the Internet dating bug big time and the preferred app du jour is Telegram, an encrypted messaging service that has also become the favored medium for political campaigns.During recent parliamentary elections, former president Mohammad Khatami used Telegram to urge Iranians to vote for a so-called List of Hope.There has been a significant decline in nuptials, with a growing number of Iranian men and women not interested in starting families and an increasing number of couples cohabitating without getting married – what is known as white marriage.Rather than discouraging youth from going online to find soul-mates, the government has established an official “spouse-finding” website, with counselors, monitors who make sure no one bends the rules and questionnaires to ensure the parties of their compatibility.My first long-term relationship was with an Iranian woman I met shortly after arriving for duty in Tehran as a draftee in the U. The women who called the bachelor quarters were breaking strong taboos, but these were not loose women.

The Initiative also seeks to promote a deeper understanding of Iran to inform US policymakers as they formulate new approaches to the Islamic Republic.

Seven months after the site was established in June 2015, the government declared that over 16,000 people had registered on the website and that there had been 140 marriages.

However, most of those who signed up were religious or conservative and would have gone down a route similar to having an arranged marriage, except that they could now brag about how virtually cool their initial encounter had been.

Almost instantaneously, people find ways to overcome the obstacles to access these forbidden sites.

Defeating the tech-savvy crowd has proved to be difficult for the government, which has resorted to entreaties to young Iranians to appreciate the forgotten value of marriage and to threaten punishment to those who go on line in search of temporary hook ups.

Much like the “chain” reformist newspapers during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency in the late 1990s and early 2000s -- when one paper would be forced to shut down, another one would spring to life with a different name but the same agenda and editorial staff – a dating site may be blocked but a similar one will soon appear.

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