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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Iran web dismay at petrol curbs
Iranians burn a gas station during a protest against gas-rationing in Tehran.
The announcement provoked angry protests at fuel stations
Iran's decision to ration fuel for private vehicles and the ensuing unrest has been greeted with surprise and anger among Iranian bloggers, with some voicing sharp criticism of the government.

Blogs were full of pictures of torched petrol stations and long queues as people tried to fill up their tanks before the restrictions came into forces.

One blogger, Reza, said there had been "chaos" at a petrol station he had visited, with drivers anxious not to miss out even refusing to let through an ambulance.

"This scene was very horrific for me. People were not even prepared to help a vehicle, whose only job is to offer help and services and could have been called up at any time to save a person's life. The people were really angry.

"I felt really sorry for myself and the people. I wish that instead of clashing with each other even more the day after, we would try to attack those who have created such a situation."

Overnight decision

Another blogger, Siamak, directs angry criticism at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accusing him of destabilising the country.

"Ahmadinejadism is a school of thought in which important and crucial economic and political decisions are made overnight. And if they lead to losses, thousands of reasons are bought to justify their failure.

"This shows that policies are being implemented that have placed the country in a completely unstable situation."

However, there were also more cautious voices. Mohammad, a Tehran-based reformist journalist, said the hard-line government was not completely to blame.

"Our responsibility is to act realistically in the face of this issue and honestly ask this question from ourselves: 'If we [the reformists] were in power wouldn't we sooner or later be forced to implement similar plans regarding petrol (even though in a different way)?" he writes.

"Misconduct"

Mehdi, a 27 year-old blogger in Tehran, even defends the decision to ration petrol as a step towards greater energy efficiency, but believes the situation was badly mishandled by the government.

"What happened last night was a demonstration of gross misconduct and irrationality... The last minute announcement of the start of the rationing caused a predictable psychological shock in society.

"The public's rush to petrol stations and the subsequent clashes were a spark which ignited the flames of people's frustration with economic irregularities and social pressure."

Surprise

Bloggers have also been critical of the way Iran's mainstream media had covered the story.

Ruzbeh, a reformist journalist, accuses it of censoring pictures of the unrest which followed the announcement, and says the lack of reporting increased people's confusion.

"The people's harsh reaction to petrol rationing was predictable. However, its announcement and consequences took us by surprise.

"News on this issue has been posed on the net from inside Iran in various ways. The [students' news agency] ISNA issued many detailed picture bulletins, but following pressure from the security forces, these are being taken off the agency's website," he writes.

One poster on YouTube, "Kiaariaan", commenting on footage of a burning petrol station, accused the media of ignoring the angry reaction to the move.

"It's amazing that you cannot find anything about these reactions in the daily newspaper inside Iran. They have written about everything except these burnings and the reactions of people. Congratulations."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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