Authorities in Iran have arrested at least eight people, including seven female fashion models, for violating the country’s obligatory headscarf rule and posing for pictures online without covering their heads.
The latest crackdown on the unlicensed industry is part of an undercover operation known as Spider II. It targets women who share photos on social media without wearing a hijab, which has been mandatory in the country for over three decades.
“In the past two years, we have launched two operations during which 50 stylists, 50 fashion houses and 50 ateliers were identified by the intelligence and judicial authorities and some arrests have been made and some [Instagram and Facebook] accounts have been closed down,” boasted Tehran’s Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi. “The enemy is trying to invest in [our] cultural and social domains in order to infiltrate the minds of our youth. They are investing online through sexual attractions and [promise] of financial gains.”
The alleged enemy is this scenario, according to the country’s moral police, is none other than U.S. reality TV actress Kim Kardashian.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp, an agency responsible for monitoring domestic culture and eliminating the influence of other nations, reportedly believes the social media presence of the “Keeping up with Kardashians” star is corrupting Iran’s youth.
As if their concerns weren’t absurd enough already, the agency’s Organized Cyberspace Crimes Unit also accused Kardashian of being an “Instagram spy,” plotting to manipulate young people – particularly women – with a lifestyle that’s contrary to Islamic values and teachings.
“Kim Kardashian is a popular fashion model so Instagram’s CEO tells her, ‘Make this native,’” spokesperson Mostafa Alizadeh said on an Iranian news program. “There is no doubt that financial support is involved as well. We are taking this very seriously.”
The Islamic Republic has also arrested a number of people for running online fashion pages. The country claims the social media pages were “promoting a culture of promiscuity, weakening and rejecting the institution of family, ridiculing religious values and beliefs, promoting relationships outside moral rules, and publishing the private pictures of young women.”
Moreover, Iranian model Elham Arab, who is famous for her wedding-dress portraits, was interrogated on camera at the Iranian Revolutionary Court with her hair hidden under a black scarf.
“All people love beauty and fame,” she said. “They would like to be seen, but it is important to know what price they will pay to be seen.”
The authorities shut down most Instagram and Facebook accounts related to the modeling industry. However, some remain online.
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Iran blocks access to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. However, millions access these websites by using virtual private networks.