Human Rights

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Iran Cracking Down on Models Who Don’t Wear Headscarves

Iranian police have arrested eight women who posted pictures on Instagram without a hair covering as part of an organized crackdown, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Elham Arab, a model known for posing in wedding gowns who was one of the arrested women, was shown on state television speaking to a state prosecutor in a conference room while wearing a black chador. “All people love beauty and fame,” She said. “They would like to be seen, but it is important to know what price they will pay to be seen.”

It is unclear what Arab and the others are being charged with.

Over 170 people were identified in the crackdown, including models, photographers, and makeup artists, the TV report said, adding that their businesses had been closed and their social media accounts deleted.

A group of young Iranians were arrested and sentenced to jail and lashes two years ago for making a video dancing to the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. The sentences were suspended after Williams and other international observers protested.

The crackdown appears to be part of the continuing assault on freedoms by the Iranian regime that have picked up since the nuclear deal was reached last year.

The New York Times reported in November that Iranians hoping that the nuclear deal would lead to a rapprochement with the West had been “jolted with a series of increasingly rude awakenings,” including increased anti-American activity and a further erosion of rights. The report was prompted by the arrests of several prominent Iranian journalists and businessmen with ties to the United States.

Last October, two Iranian poets were sentenced to jail and 99 lashes each for shaking hands with members of the opposite sex. The following month, reports surfaced that Iranian actress Sadaf Taherian was forced to flee the country after she posted pictures of herself with her hair uncovered on social media.

National elections in February resulted in hardliners consolidating their control over Iran’s parliament and the influential Assembly of Experts.

Saudi journalist Abdulrahman al-Rashed predicted last year that the nuclear deal would embolden Iran’s hardliners because they would “feel more confident, aware that foreign threats will have been neutralized and that no one will be able to confront them.”

[Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi / Flickr ]