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Elnaz Golrokh
via Instagram (@ElnazGolrokh)

Models arrested for not wearing headscarves on Instagram

Eight people connected to online modeling agencies, many through IG, have been arrested for posing with uncovered hair, a practice illegal in Iran since 1979

The Iranian police force has arrested eight people during investigations into models posing with their hair uncovered.

According to BBC news, Tehran’s cybercrimes court prosecutor called those employed by online modeling agencies “un-Islamic”. There have been reports that women not wearing headscarves in Instagram pictures have been specifically targeted. A law implemented in 1979 disallows women in Iran from having uncovered hair in public, and the struggle to uphold these cultural values is at odds with its young people.

Around 170 people have been reprimanded in an investigation by the government, including 59 photographers, 58 models and 51 salon managers and designers. 29 of those accused have been told they could stand trial as part of the “Spider II” investigation.

In a television report, the prosecutor Javad Babaei discussed the “threats to morality and the foundation of family” that IG posts pose. Babaei said that up to 20 per cent of Iranian Instagram posts had been “making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity”. It said those already accused have had their businesses shut down and their social media accounts suspended.

Early reports name some of the accused women as Melikaa Zamani, Niloofar Behboudi, Donya Moghadam, Dana Nik, Shabnam Molavi, Elnaz Golrokh and Hamid Fadaei. In a statement, Golrokh said: “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. I love you.”

Unlike Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, Instagram hasn't been blocked in Iran.

April saw police chief general Hossein Sajedinia announce that 7,000 plainclothes division officers were sent out to oversee the legally enforced Islamic dress code. It’s the country’s largest undercover assignment ever.

May 2014 saw the arrest of young Iranian men and women who posted a video online of their group dancing to “Happy” by Pharrell. They were given suspended sentences and 91 lashes.

These recent arrests follow the imprisonment of journalists, activists and artists in the area for challenging Islamic values.