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Iran's wave of moralism goes on, but fuel rationing sets off people's anger
On June 18th Iranís parliament approved a new law (148 votes in favour and 5 against), that sentences to death anyone who is involved in any way in the production of pornography.
A Draconian law. In order to become law, the bill must now be approved by the Guardian Council, which is the principal Iranian political and religious authority. There are few chances that the bill will be rejected, considered the wave of moralism which is pervading Iran, especially since president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power. The bill approved by Parliament closes the scandal that arose last year, after a videotape was circulated in which the popular Iranian actress Zahra Amir Ebrahimi had sexual intercourse with a man.
The video was circulated first on the internet and then on the DVD black market and has been seen all over the country. Ms. Ebrahimi became the subject of an investigation which is still going on. When the law will be passed, the situation for Ms. Ebrahimi, as well as for others, will become even more difficult. The actress always denied being the woman in the film and the man, who is suspected of releasing the tape, cannot be found. Keeping public attention focused on this is the only thing that matters for Ahmadinejadís governement, always busy in organizing events with the greatest media impact. In this way both national and international public attention is diverted from Iranís real big problem: the complete failure of the governmentís economic politics led by previous Teheranís mayor.

Peopleís rage. On Wednesday, June 27th, for the first time in the history of the worldís fourth major oil producer country, fuel has been rationed. This measure has set off Teheranís citizens and not only them. The evening before this measure came into force, a group of young people from the capital assaulted and set fire to twelve gas stations in Pounak, one of the poorest neighbourhoods of the city and one of the strongholds from which populist Ahmadinejad started his climb to power, thundering against the corrupt representatives of the Islamic Republic, whom he would have driven out to star working in favour of poor people. However, he hasnít done anything, and while Iranians are experiencing one of the worst economic crisis of their history, he announces fuel rationing. According to this measure citizens can buy only 100 litres of fuel per month for their cars. In the hours preceding the enforcement of this measure, long lines formed at Iranís gas stations, while the black market was running wild, with a litre of fuel being sold 7 times more than its normal price.
Hardline politicsí crisis. Ahmadinejad presented his decision as ďan act of courage from the governmentĒ, but by rationing fuel what the government is really aiming at is to stop imports and therefore to eliminate the menace of a harsher embargo from the United Nations in response to Teheran nuclear program. Iranians however canít take it any longer, and in the last months dissent towards Ahmadinejad has dramatically increased, especially among young people. Protestersí slogans yesterday were all against the president, some even instigating his murder. Even those who think Iran has a right to develop a peaceful nuclear program are tired of the presidentís hardline. Most of all Ahmadinejadís extremism doesnít appeal to the masses anymore: they are still in poverty and they are witnessing the total failure of governmentís economic measures. At the same time there is growing fear of a possible armed attack guided by the United States. Sometimes it seems that the president would like this to happen, as a way to bring the country together against invasion.
Attilio de Castris
Keywords: iran, tehran, ahmadinejad, rationing, fuel
Topic: People, Politics
Area: Iran