Iran arrests female models for posing without hijabs

The arrests were part of an undercover operation dubbed Spider II that targets photos of women without head covering.

Iran headscarves
President Hassan Rouhani's government is not strict in enforcing the head covering rule [File: Vahid Salemi/AP]

At least eight people have been arrested in Iran in a crackdown on women posing for fashion photos online without a headscarf, Iranian media report. 

Monday’s arrests included seven female models allegedly involved in posting on the photo-sharing platform Instagram, according to Khabar Online news website.

The state media’s television report included footage of model Elham Arab, known for her portraits in wedding dresses, speaking before Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi in a conference room, her blonde hair hidden under a black chador.

“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 report did not say what charges Arab faced, nor did it identify the other seven people arrested. It said police identified about 170 people in the operation through social media activity as being involved in modelling, including 58 models, 59 photographers and make-up artists.

It said those targeted saw their businesses shut down, as well as their pages on Instagram and Facebook removed.

“We must fight with enemy’s actions in this area,” Dolatabadi was quoted by the state-owned IRAN newspaper as saying. “Of course our actions in this area will continue.”

Spider II

The arrests were part of an undercover operation dubbed Spider II which targets photographs of women without the head covering that has been mandatory in Iran for more than three decades. 

The government of President Hassan Rouhani is not strict in enforcing the head-covering rule, but hardliners in the country’s police and judiciary consider exposed hair as unIslamic. 

In recent years, Iranian women in Tehran especially have increasingly worn the mandatory scarf loosely on their head, drawing the anger of conservatives in the Islamic Republic.

Tehran police chief General Hossein Sajedinia in April announced that his department had deployed 7,000 male and female officers for a new plain-clothes division – the largest such undercover assignment in memory – to enforce the government-mandated Islamic dress code.

Source: News Agencies