Iran’s cybercrimes court has announced that eight people who work in the online modeling industry have been arrested for appearing in an “un-islamic” fashion.
The arrests are part of larger operation targeting Iranian women who appear on the internet without their headscarves. Iranian women have been required to wear headscarves since 1979.
The dragnet has identified 170 people in the modeling industry including make-up artists and photographers, according to the court.
News of the arrests were made by prosecutor Javad Babaei during a state televised program that addressed “threats to morality and the foundation of family” on social media.
Babei claimed that 20% of posts on Instagram from Iran are coming from modeling agencies that are “making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity.”
“The persons who reformed their behaviour after receiving a notice did not face any judicial action, and eight out of the 29 have been arrested,” he said.
A spokesman for the Iranian Centre for Surveying and Combating Organised Cyber Crimes, Mostafa Alizadeh, said: “Sterilising popular cyberspaces is on our agenda.
“We carried out this plan in 2013 with Facebook, and now Instagram is the focus,” he added, saying fresh operations would begin in the coming days.
One of the models, Elham Arab, was forced to publicly denounce her modeling. She was questioned before the Iranian Revolutionary Court, and said she considered her modeling to be “a mistake.”
“I think all humans are interested in admiring beauty and becoming famous,” she said. “But they must first consider at what cost and what they will lose in return. For an Iranian film star they may not lose much but for a model she will certainly lose her hijab and honour.”
Arab’s Instagram page has been taken down.
See Elham Arab’s photo on the next page…
Many of Iran’s fashion models have stopped promoting themselves on Instagram since the crackdown began last January.
Some of the models arrested have been charged with other crimes such as “spreading prostitution” and “promoting corruption,” saying they promoted “immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity.”