Iran proposes Islamic crypto to challenge US dominance
President Rouhani seeks pan-Islamic de-dollarisation
Hassan Rouhani, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has become a somewhat surprising advocate of cryptocurrencies.
Speaking at an Islamic conference in Malaysia, the Iranian leader called for Muslim nations to better co-ordinate their financial and trade policy in order to reduce their dependence on the US dollar.
While the condemnation of America’s “domineering hegemony and bullying” is a normal feature in a speech by the Iranian leader, support for cryptocurrencies is not. Mr Rouhani called for the creation of a pan-Islamic cryptocurrency and stated: “The Muslim world should be designing measures to save themselves from the domination of the United States dollar and the American financial regime,” adding: “We can use our own currencies or have a common currency.”
President Rouhani clearly recognises the ability of cryptocurrencies to liberate nations and indeed entire religious groups from unwanted economic dominance of an unwanted power.
However, with restrictive legislation still in place in Iran, it is clear that the Iranian government is resistant to this decentralising technology trickling down to the level of individual Iranian citizens.
While it is legal to own some cryptocurrencies in Iran, the government has banned financial institutions from facilitating transactions in the world’s largest crypto, Bitcoin (BTC). Earlier this year the Iranian central bank reminded citizens that the buying and selling of Bitcoin was illegal.
Nonetheless a September survey by Gate Trade found that Iranian investors are increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies, with around 58 per cent of those polled earning an income through crypto-trading.
With Iran’s main rival Saudi Arabia not attending the conference it is debatable how likely a pan-Islamic currency really is. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in attendance and agreed with the need for Muslim countries to cooperate on the development of Islamic financing.
Nonetheless Erdogan also criticised the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation for its “lack of implementation.” With comments such as these from one of the Muslim world’s most prominent political leaders, an Islam-coin is likely to stay a fantasy.
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