Men in Iran have been ordered not to look at women during Ramadan as part of a round of draconian restrictions imposed by the increasingly isolated regime.
In a sign of frustration with growing civil discontent and economic pain caused by US sanctions, hardliners in Iran’s government are forcing through unusually strict social diktats to bring people into line.
The country’s judiciary has announced that those eating in public during the fasting period are also in breach of laws and will be prosecuted.
“My personal advice to women is to respect the hijab even more than before and gentlemen must avoid looking directly at female passersby,” Gholam- Hossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesperson said.
“Anyone ignoring these instructions during the Ramadan will be committing an offence and should expect some punishment from the law enforcement units.”
The morality police in Iran added that they will now arrest anyone playing music on their car radio and will tow their car away and hand them a heavy fine.
The new restrictions come as US is building up its military presence in the Persian Gulf, while the public concern inside Iran about the economic consequences of sinking relations with Washington grows.
On Saturday the US ratcheted pressure further by announcing it was deploying a Patriot missile-defence system to the Middle East, adding that more Navy ships with amphibious vehicles would join a strike group being led by the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. US B-52 bombers have arrived at a base in Qatar, the Pentagon said.
Iran flexed its own muscles last week by threatening to begin enriching uranium if European powers don’t fight to keep the nuclear deal alive after Donald Trump walked away from the agreement and imposed harsh sanctions.
President Rouhani said the remaining countries in the deal must “find a way to protect Iran’s oil and banking industries from US sanctions” or he would put Iran on the path to nuclear weapons.
Last week the value of US dollar against the national currency Rial reached record high with one dollar selling at 16000 Rials on black markets.
Iran’s economy is beset by a near 50 percent inflation, its currency has almost collapsed, labour and civil servants strikes are commonplace and the conservative establishment faces an increasing women’s rights movement.
Recent nationwide floods have also left farming lands of 26 provinces in ruin and diseases threatening millions in the rural areas of Iran.
Recent changes in the country’s leadership structure suggest an internal clampdown on any open challenge to the regime’s authority at home.
Last month the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed the fiery General Hossein Salami as the new commander of the Revolutionary Guard, and the ultra conservative clergy Ebrahim Raeesi as the chief judge.
However, senior Iranian officials have warned about the public discontent turning into street protests, as food and fuel rationing similar to those during the war with Iraq have been suggested by the government as options to deal with the shortages.
Hossein Salami of the Revolutionary Guard said: “The holy month of Ramadan is a reminder to us for being steadfast in our confrontation with the world arrogance as they seem to have a war deployment against us in all economic, cultural and social fronts, but not in physical manner. Our mission is to block all their paths and defuse their plots by any means we can.”
Mr Rouhani’s first deputy Eshagh Jahangir has said that the high inflation and fall in Iranian people’s purchasing power “are the real issues that threaten our country, not US”.
Speaking to a group of provincial governors recently Jahangir said: “What should worry all of us is the wrath and hatred of the public against the authorities and the system that can not deliver to them”.