In a country where Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all banned for life, Instagram--the only surviving global social media tool in Iran--is the latest cause for concern for its citizens.
In what's being called a crackdown of "un-Islamic acts," the DailyMail has reported that eight Iranian models have been arrested and charged with 'promoting western promiscuity' for posing pictures of themselves online without headscarves.
Elham Arab, the most famous of the eight (she went viral for modeling her wedding dress), was interrogated following a sting operation called Spider-2. Answering questions on camera, Arab dressed up her blonde hair under a black chador and spoke on her arrest for the first time: "All people love beauty and fame," Arab said. "They would like to be seen, but it is important to know what price they will pay to be seen." The price? A display of "public groveling" and "public self-criticism" for all eight women.
Below is Elham Arab pictured in a wedding dress without an hijab that previously went viral via Instagram. The DailyMail reported that "Prosecutor Babaei found that 20% of the Instagram feed in Iran is run by the modelling group," many of which have over 500,000 followers each.
The other women charged in the Spider-2 sting include Melikaa Zamani, Niloofar Behboudi, Donya Moghadam, Dana Nik, Shabnam Molavi, Elnaz Golrokh and Hamid Fadaei. Recent crackdowns have also included arrests of artists, poets, journalists, and activists. The sting operation has reportedly identified 170 other persons connected to the modelling industry, including 59 photographers, 59 make-up artists, 58 models, and 51 fashion designers and salon owners.
Over 300 Instagram accounts have been identified in the sting -- most of which have all been canceled as of today, including the page of Elham Arab. Instagram has yet to release a public statement in response.