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Iranian regime arrests eight for “un-islamic” photos on Instagram

Today 16th May 2016 the Tehran prosecutor in a meeting with the Iranian regime’s court regarding cyber crimes gave details about the recent arrests of 8 Instagram users, according to Khabar Online (affiliated with IRGC).

During this meeting, one of the arrested models confessed to her crimes. She was previously interviewed on state television, despite the fact that Iranian state television had already been sanctioned by the E.U. for broadcasting people’s confessions live on air.

According to head of the cyber crime court Javad Babaei, in front of a rising popularity of social media websites especially in younger demographics, attempts of influencing the social network’s policy and implementing filters in Iran were ignored by Instagram. When such talks failed, the Iranian regime threatened to apply their strong hand to both Instagram and Telegram users.

A report by AFP says that following a two-year long sting operation labeled “Spider II”, forces of the Iranian regime have moved to arrest eight people for “making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity”, in the words of Tehran’s court prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi.

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The source of such outrage for the religious regime is, among other things, that some of these photos depicted the models without the hijab covering the hair.

According to Fars (official news agency for the Iranian regime), the operation identified 170 people connected to a modelling Instagram circle. Among them are photographers, make up artists, models and designers. During the meeting with the head prosecutor, it’s been mentioned that 300 Instagram pages were monitored in Iran including all posts, followers, likes, comments, related facebook accounts, telegram, telephone numbers and email addresses published in any of the pages.

Criminal charges have been brought forward for 21 more people, on top of the 8 arrests. According to the head of Tehran’s cybercrimes court,  Javad Babaei, it’s a moral duty to “confront those who committed these crimes in an organised manner”. He also added that court cases about online behavior and social media make up most of the proceedings and are on the rise. This tendency doesn’t seem to slow down despite the heavy consequences on the families of those accused, some times leading up to suicides.

This operation comes just a week after Khamenei remarked on the importance of the cyberspace as one of the most serious subjects for the regime to pay attention to.

Those arrested according to earlier reports include the models Melikaa Zamani, Niloofar Behboudi, Donya Moghadam, Dana Nik, Shabnam Molavi, Elnaz Golrokh and Hamid Fadaei.

Ms Golrokh issued a statement saying: “Unfortunately for the moment I will not be active in Iran, but I will continue my work outside Iran. Thanks for your support and your positive energy.”

About Siavosh Hosseini (213 Articles)
My background is in the visual arts, particularly in photojournalism. I have had the opportunity to cover scores of international artistic and news events in the US and across Europe since the mid-1980s. I was active in television newsrooms and production as a graphic designer and producer for more than 12 years in different television and news outfits in Europe.

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