Iran cracks down on Instagram modelling, 8 arrested

By AFP
Published: May 16, 2016
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PHOTO: BARAKABITS

PHOTO: BARAKABITS

TEHRAN: Iran has arrested eight people for working in “un-Islamic” online modelling networks, particularly on Instagram, the head of Tehran’s cybercrimes court said on state television.

The arrests were made under a two-year-old sting operation named “Spider II”, targeting among others models who post photos online without the hijab covering the hair that is compulsory for women in public in Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Sting operation aftermath: Strict security irks lawmakers

It identified 170 people running online Instagram pages — 59 photographers and makeup artists, 58 models, 51 fashion salon managers and designers, and two active institutions, according to a statement from the special court.

“We found out that about 20 percent of the (Iranian) Instagram feed is run by the modelling circle,” Javad Babaei said on state television late Sunday.

They have been “making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity”, he said.

Babaei said it was the judiciary’s duty to “confront those who committed these crimes in an organised manner”.

In addition to the eight arrests, criminal cases have been opened against 21 other people, he said.

The sting operation has homed in on a database of over 300 popular Iranian Instagram accounts and connected accounts, Babaei said.

His comments followed a live “educational court session” on Sunday at which a former model said she had been earning money through the popular photosharing mobile application Instagram.

Drama in parliament: Sting operation lands TV anchor in hot waters

The average monthly income for a successful model is 100 million rials ($3,330), the woman, named as Elham Arab by the judiciary-linked website Mizan Online, told Tehran’s prosecutor.

Instagram is extremely popular in Iran. Unlike Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which remain blocked, Instagram is accessible to Iranians.

The crackdown seems to refer to the eight arrests announced by judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie in early March.

He reported the “arrest of eight models, some of whom were released on bail and some informed (of the law and freed).”

“Some of them had heavy charges like spreading prostitution and promoting corruption,” he said.

“Some … entered these networks unknowingly and thought these are commission jobs they are being paid for, so these people were not arrested.”

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Point
    May 16, 2016 - 2:41PM

    Same in france. Wear a scarf and you will be fined and what not!!Recommend

  • Brainy Bhaijan
    May 16, 2016 - 3:33PM

    Iran and Saudi are the epitome of what religion can do to crush the worth of women.Recommend

  • Humza
    May 16, 2016 - 6:21PM

    It doesn’t surprise me to see so many Iranian refugees all over the world. Everyone seems desperate to run away from Iran. The government there doesn’t seem to see how they are oppressing people.Recommend

  • Said it
    May 16, 2016 - 10:59PM

    @Brainy Bhaijan:
    And India is the exact opposite…right? Many Indians would argue that India is not a religious country; yet women continue to suffer…Recommend

  • vinsin
    May 17, 2016 - 5:07PM

    @Point:
    Wearing a scarf is not fined in France.Recommend

  • Muhammad Abdullah
    May 17, 2016 - 5:15PM

    These people we’re breaking the law of the land, it is easy to criticize the government but nations, after passing through different stages during their lifetime reach at certain conclusions regarding the things that lead to corruption (or led to corruption in the past) such as opium or capitalism in China led to communism. Communism was the enemy no.1 but now even American companies are investing in China. Same is the case with Iran. Due to the Shah’s policies people started hating everything he stood for, that is, the west, freedom for women, capitalism, etc.Recommend

  • Muhammad Abdullah
    May 17, 2016 - 5:25PM

    Nations take different paths and hence different measures to protect themselves from ruin or corruption. During the Shah’s time the government was secular but Iranians revolted against it and installed a religious government.
    Freedom without boudries can lead to anarchy, may be?Recommend

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