An Iranian model was arrested over a photo posted online.
Elham Arab, a famous Iranian beauty, known for her wedding dress portraits, was arrested and interrogated on camera at the Iranian Revolutionary Court as part of a sting conducted by police against Iranians who post photos of themselves online without wearing the mandatory Islamic head scarf.
The Daily Mail reports that the sting was code-named Spider-2, and targeted the photo-sharing app Instagram, which is open to the public in Iran. Other social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are either banned entirely or heavily censored.
Eight models were arrested, including Arab, and charged with 'promoting western promiscuity,' according to the Daily Mail. Part of their punishment is to give 'public self-criticism.'
That led to a statement by Arab which read, in part: "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."
Prosecutor Javad Babaei claimed success over the sting operation. "We found out that about 20 percent of the [Iranian] Instagram feed is run by the modeling circle," he told state television. He went on to say that they have been "making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity."
According to The New York Times, Elnaz Golrokh, one of the women who had an arrest warrant issued against her, fled the country earlier this year with her husband, Hamid Fadaei. The couple has been posting glamorous photos of themselves to Instagram at black-tie galas from Dubai while their colleagues and peers in their home country are facing arrest and imprisonment.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, wearing the hijab in public has been mandatory for women of Iran. Many artists, poets, journalists, and activists have been detained in the years since then. For example, in May 2014, police arrested a group of young Iranians for dancing in an online video while playing Pharell's song "Happy," the Daily Mail reports.
The arrests drew widespread criticism and backlash, including from Pharell himself. The culprits received a six-month suspended sentence and 91 lashes (whippings) for their alleged crimes.
According to the Daily Mail, Tehran police chief Gen. Hossein Sajedinia announced that his department had deployed 7,000 officers for a brand new plainclothes division aimed at enforcing the government-mandated Islamic dress code.
If those numbers are any indication, there will likely be more arrests to come.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has yet to comment on this incident.