22-year-old shot to prominence after posting images of her eerily gaunt face. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/SAHAR TABAR

Covid-19: Imprisoned Instagram star dubbed 'Zombie Angelina Jolie' on ventilator

22-year-old shot to prominence after posting images of her eerily gaunt face

Social Desk April 18, 2020

An Angelina Jolie 'Zombie' lookalike is said to be on a ventilator in Iran after she fell ill with coronavirus while in prison for her activity on Instagram.

Social media star Sahar Tabar, 22, whose real name is Fatemeh Khishvand, from Tehran, shot to prominence after posting images of her eerily gaunt face.


But the 22-year-old, whose lawyers had asked for her to be released amid the country's severe Covid-19 outbreak, is now said to be seriously ill.

The US-based Center For Human Rights In Iran said a judge in the country refused to grant her bail despite the fact that coronavirus is rife in the country's prisons.

Last month, the country freed around 85,000 prisoners to try to combat the deadly virus, which is thought to have killed thousands more than official figures suggest.


"We find it unacceptable that this young woman has now caught the coronavirus in these circumstances while her detention order has been extended during all this time in jail," human rights lawyer Payam Derafshan told the organisation on Wednesday.


Sahar was arrested in October on charges including blasphemy, inciting violence, gaining income through inappropriate means and encouraging youths to corruption, Tasnim news agency reported.

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She was detained on the orders of Tehran's guidance court, which deals with '"cultural crimes and social and moral corruption".

The social media star shot to fame in 2017 after she reportedly had 50 surgeries to make her look like the Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie.

She later confirmed her look was mostly was achieved through make-up and editing.

Judge Mohammad Moghiseh is reported to have repeatedly denied Sahar's release on bail, even as the kingdom went on to declare more than 70,000 coronavirus cases.

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Derafshan said it had become a "habit" for the authorities to 'deny everything' after they claimed Sahar had not caught the illness.

"It makes no sense to deny this. The prison director should acknowledge the infection and admit she has been hospitalized," he said.


He added that Sahar and other inmates who have been put in prison on non-violent charges should also be released because of the outbreak.

On Tuesday, Iran's own parliament said the country had likely suffered twice as many deaths from coronavirus as the country's official death toll states, a parliamentary report has said.


Investigators said the official total only counted those who died in hospital and who tested positive for the virus before they died - meaning the true toll is higher.

Iran has officially reported 4,777 deaths from the virus - a figure which has caused suspicion among experts and the international community.

The kingdom also reported 76,389 cases of the virus, making it the Middle East's worst outbreak by far.

The 46-page report by Iran's parliament research center, published online, carries the weight of being written by nonpartisan experts within the country.

Iranian health officials offered no comment on the report.

It represents the highest-level charge yet from within the Islamic Republic's government of its figures being questionable.


In July, Sahar unveiled her former appearance for the first time, sharing a side-by-side snaps of her pre and post surgery.

She later admitted she'd had some surgery such as a nose job, lip fillers and liposuction but insisted most of her unusual appearance is down to make-up and editing.

She said: "This is Photoshop and makeup. Every time I publish a photo, I paint my face in an increasingly funny way. It is a way of expressing yourself, a kind of art. My fans know that this is not my real face."


She added: "I did not even think about being like Jolie. Also, I did not want to resemble the cartoon character the Corpse Bride. Now I understand that I have something to do with them, but I am a muse myself and remembering someone is not an end in itself."

In some, she can be seen wearing a loosely fitting hijab over her hair and a white bandage on her nose commonly seen on Tehran's streets.

Cosmetic surgery is hugely popular in the Islamic republic, with tens of thousands of operations taking place each year.


Instagram is the only major social media service accessible in Iran unlike Facebook and Twitter and the Telegram messenger service are officially banned.

The article originally appeared in Mail Online


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