Instagram Models Arrested in Iran for Emulating Kim Kardashian

Lauren Tuck
News Editor
Instagram model Elnaz Golrokh in a selfie without a head scarf. (Photo: @elnaz_golrokh/Instagram)

Kim Kardashian West, who is currently under investigation by Iranian officials, is just one of many targets accused of engaging in a secret scheme to corrupt Middle Eastern women. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, eight individuals with ties to the fashion industry were recently arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The governmental organization, which is tasked with protecting the country’s Islamic system and preventing foreign interference, has accused the reality star of collaborating with Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom to encourage modeling throughout the country. And of those individuals who have actually emulated Kardashian West, posing on social media without head scarves and in immodest dresses and makeup, more than 100 have either been detained or questioned. Under the country’s strict Islamic law, women have had to keep their hair covered in public since 1979.

The surveillance project, also known as Spider II, has reportedly identified 58 models, 51 fashion clothing designers, 59 photographers and makeup artists, and two fashion institutes of interest through the cybercrime unit, resulting in 29 criminal cases and multiple businesses being shuttered. Mostafa Alizadeh, a spokesman for the Iranian Centre for Surveying and Combating Organized Cybercrimes, the department in charge of the ongoing inquiry, said that “sterilizing popular cyberspaces” is part of the agenda.

Elham Arab in a selfie posted to social media. (Photo: Instagram)

Elham Arab, a top model known for her bottle blond hair and wedding photo shoots on social media, was charged with “promoting western promiscuity.” She appeared in front of a Tehran prosecutor this week, with her hair colored brown and hidden underneath a black chador, apologizing her actions. “All people love beauty and fame. They would like to be seen, but it is important to know what price they will pay to be seen,” she said in a statement aired on national television.

Married couple Elnaz Golrokh and Hamid Fadaei, who have a combined total of about 850,000 followers (which is a lot in Iran where the app is technically banned), fled the country and are living in Dubai, according to Iran Wire. Fadaei is one of Iran’s most famous faces, while his wife, a makeup artist, is considered a Kylie Jenner-esque personality. “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,” she shared on Instagram. In a separate post, Golrokh noted that she hopes to return to the country in the future and bring with her “the most up to date international services and increase the level of the cosmetic industry.”

“This kind of stifling and intimidation will only deprive Iranians of the cultural and artistic vitality that is rightfully theirs and further alienate the country’s youth,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “The Revolutionary Guards’ assault on Iran’s fashion industry testifies to the fear of hardliners who try to control every aspect of people’s lives and squash any visible challenge to their narrow world view.”

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