Iran General NewsIran doesn't spring forward. Time to get mad.

Iran doesn’t spring forward. Time to get mad.

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New York Times: A decision by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government not to move the clocks ahead at the beginning of spring this year has caused immense problems and irritations for Iranians.
The New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI

TEHRAN, April 9 — A decision by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government not to move the clocks ahead at the beginning of spring this year has caused immense problems and irritations for Iranians.

For the first time in 15 years, the government unexpectedly announced that it was not changing to daylight saving time. The reason, said the government spokesman, Gholamhossein Elham, was that the cabinet had concluded that making the change had not led to energy savings in past years.

But to hedge its bets, the government decided that schools and government offices would start their day at 7 a.m. instead of the usual 8 a.m.

Energy experts dispute the cabinet’s conclusion, predicting that the decision is going to cost the government $3.3 billion in additional energy costs anyway, the ISNA state news agency reported. The decision has also caused widespread inconvenience and anger. Many people traveling abroad have missed their flights, confused about what time the planes were actually leaving. Government employees have showed up late at work. Businessmen who work with foreign companies must try to recalculate the time difference. Many parents are having a hard time adjusting their working hours to their children’s new school time.

“I used to drop my son at school, go to work and pick him up at 1:30 when I left my office,” said Nassim Aradalan, a dentist and the mother of a 9-year-old. “Our schedule is a mess now. I go to the office one hour early but I cannot leave an hour early to pick him up at 12:30.”

Saeed Leylaz, an economist and political analyst, said the energy cost of not making the change, which the government has brushed off as insignificant, was equal to three days of Iran’s oil revenues. “Mr. Ahmadinejad just wants to do something different and does not care about its costs and consequences,” he said.

The public welfare minister, Parviz Kazemi, said the government had the country’s 20 million farmers in mind when it decided not to move to daylight saving time. “They usually start their work with the daylight, and changing the time does not affect their lives,” the daily newspaper Shargh quoted him as saying.

But opponents of the decision have contended that the government has ignored the benefits of the change for 18 million students and others.

Before the Islamic revolution in 1979, the government enforced daylight saving for a few years, but then it ended after Shiite clerics contended it was anti-Islamic because it changed the hours of prayer. But the government began making the change again in 1991, as a measure to curb energy consumption.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a former vice president who is a midranking cleric himself, brushed off the argument that changing time is against Islam on his Web site (webneveshteha.com). He argued that clocks in the modern sense did not exist in the time of Prophet Muhammad.

Critics of Mr. Ahmadinejad have said the decision was made without an examination of its consequences. They have compared it to some of his other actions and statements that seemed not to have been weighed against the possible political consequences, like his comments that the Holocaust was a myth and that Israel should be wiped off the map.

“This particular measure has had immediate impact on people’s daily lives and people can feel how such decisions can change their lives,” said Ahmad Shirzad, a former member of Parliament. “It is clear that the government did not study its consequences, like what Mr. Ahmadinejad said about the Holocaust. It made many wonder if he said it and then thought about it, or thought about it before saying it.”

Members of Parliament have called the decision hasty, but have said they will not confront Mr. Ahmadinejad because they want to avoid another conflict with the government. “The government is responsible for bringing order into society, not creating chaos,” Hossein Afarideh, a member of Parliament, told ISNA . “Its excuse for not changing the time is wrong and will soon lead to shortage of power.”

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