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Week of May 20th
Kim K, the American agent
In a second crackdown, the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) arrested at least eight people involved in online modeling. Female models with more than 100,000 followers on Instagram are among those who have been detained for appearing without a mandatory headscarf. They include Elham Arab, known for her blonde locks and modelling of bridal dresses. She appeared live on Iranian state television in a black headscarf that covered her newly dark hair and matching gloves, as she was questioned by two prosecutors. Arab discussed her “bitter experiences” in Iran’s illegal modelling industry and expressed regret for what she did. It isn’t clear if Arab’s conservative appearance was voluntary and/or if it was a forced confession.
 
According to Mostafa Alizadeh, a spokesman for the Iranian Center for Surveying and Combating Organized Cybercrimes, the real culprit is the West. “They are targeting young people and women. Foreigners are behind it because it is targeting families. These schemes originate from around the Persian Gulf and England. When you draw the operational graph, you will see that it is a foreign operation.” In Alizadeh’s view, Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom wants to make fashion modelling ‘native’ to Iran, with Kim Kardashian leading the charge. He added that “Ms. Kim Kardashian is a popular fashion model so Instagram’s CEO tells her, ‘make this native.’ There is no doubt that financial support is involved as well. We are taking this very seriously.”
 
The story about Kim K went viral, but as Al-Monitor’s Arash Karami notes, “One low level paranoid official makes a comment about Kim Kardashian and Instagram, and Iran becomes an international laughing stock.”

The IRGC accuse Kim Kardashian of corrupting Iranian youth, by Mana Neyestani.
Please invest in Iran, we beg you
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the Syrian peace talks in Vienna to discuss the obstacles of the Iran Deal. And if you’re wondering how things turned out during the peace talks themselves… Well, foreign leaders can't seem to agree on setting a date to resume again.
 
Meanwhile, U.S. and European governments made another appeal for European banks and businesses to invest in Iran. In a joint statement—the European Union, France Germany, United Kingdom, United States—said: “We will not stand in the way of permitted business activity with Iran and we will not stand in the way of international firms or financial institutions’ engaging with Iran, as long as they follow all applicable laws.” They added that, “We understand that firms may continue to have specific sanctions-related questions or concerns about doing business in Iran, and we stand ready to provide expeditious clarifications. We encourage firms to approach our governments to address remaining questions, rather than forgo opportunities due to misperceptions or lack of information.”

Still, for European banks, U.S. assurances on Iran come with asterisks. For example, 58 out of 100 executives of U.K.-based international law firms “aren’t confident they know what precautions need to be taken to protect their investments and avoid regulatory penalties”.



Rafsanjani visits Bahais
The daughter of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani drew controversy after a picture emerged of her meeting with one of the leaders of the Baha’i faith. Faezeh Hashemi, a political activist and former member of parliament, met with Fariba Kamalabadi, who was on a five day furlough after serving eight years of a 20 years sentence. She is one of seven community leaders currently serving a sentence in Evin Prison. Baha’is aren't recognized by the constitution and suffer discrimination since they’re considered to be a heretic sect in Iran. There are some 300,000 Baha’is in Iran and about 6 million worldwide.
 
Hashemi met Kamalabadi during 2012 when they were both imprisoned in the women’s ward at Evin. Hashemi was sentenced to six months for making "propaganda against the system” in the aftermath of the 2009 post-election protests known as the Green Movement. Hashemi claims Kamalabadi opened her eyes about the Baha’i faith, including the fact they should have full civil and human rights. Hashemi added she had no regrets since she was visiting a friend.

 
Since the image of their meeting emerged on social media, many Iranian officials criticized Hashemi, including her own father. Former President Rafsanjani said the following: “Faezeh made a bad mistake and needs to correct it and make up for it. The misguided Baha’i sect is a colonially built sect and deviant.” The worst criticism came from Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shiraz. “From a religious point of view, strengthening the enemies of Islam is a crime, and the criminal can be pursued. We are opposed to them not only because of their enmity with Islam, but because this misguided sect are agents of America and Israel,” he said. The Baha’i World Center is located in Haifa, Israel.
 
Also, there’s a new era of economic opportunity in Iran—but not for Baha’is.
Other stories that made headlines
 
Human rights

Leading Iranian human rights defender sentenced to 16 years in prison.
 
Iranian political activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi arrested.
 
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been moved out of solitary confinement.
 
Nazanin's husband on his wife's imprisonment in Iran.
 
Lebanese man held in Iran had past U.S. contracts.

How do prisoners pass time? With video games, of course.
 
Will Iran stop executions for drug offenses?
 
Iranian judge tells man: 'If you’re innocent you’ll go to heaven after you're hanged'.
 
Iran urged to call off teenager Alireza Tajiki’s execution.
 
Why are Afghan refugees leaving Iran?
 
What the law says about sexual assault in Zanjan Province.
 
Domestic politics
 
President Hassan Rouhani’s greatest win on the verge of becoming a liability.
 
Iran’s government and Revolutionary Guards battle for control of economy.
 
The real 'back pain' behind head of Iranian broadcaster's resignation.
 
Who will be Iran's next speaker of parliament?
 
6 things you need to know about Iran's powerful IRGC.
 
Fearless Iranian blogger threatened by Al-Nusra Front, vows to continue work.
 
Foreign policy
 
Iran wants U.S. to pay for 63 years of 'spiritual and material damage'.
 
Four ways U.S. seizure of Iranian assets will impact bilateral ties.
 
How SCOTUS decision to freeze Iran assets undermines U.S. foreign policy.
 
Congressman: Classified details of Iran's treatment of U.S. sailors will shock nation.
 
No, Yemen’s Houthis actually aren’t Iranian puppets.
 
Iran invites Barzani amid apparent mediation role over Erbil-Baghdad strains.
 
Iranian goods banned in the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Persian carpets.
 
Saudi Arabia, Iran trade blame over failed Hajj talks.
 
Why Iran should focus on Turkey, not Russia, for Syria cooperation.
 
Iran is sending about 100 military advisers and instructors to Syria and Iraq.
 
Iran's IRGC says many Iranians have volunteered to fight in Syria.
 
For Iran and Hezbollah, a costly week in Syria.
 
Iran Deal
 
Five ways to make the nuclear deal work for Iran.
 
Explainer: What Iran is looking like as nuclear deal provisions are being carried out.
 
Ben Rhodes won’t testify on Iran Deal “narratives” mentioned in recent interview.
 
Oil and trade
 
Iran to build wind farm in Kazakhstan.
 
Modi's Iran visit looks at doubling oil imports, Chabahar port deal.
 
Iran's May oil exports set to surge nearly 60 percent from a year ago.
 
Hoteliers look to develop properties as Tehran emerges from long isolation.
 
Turkey to build at least 10 hotels in Iran.
 
Executives are confused by Iran sanctions.
 
IMF calls for Iran reforms to attract international investors.
 
Why Iran can't rely on oil to rescue its economy.
 
Art and culture
 
As regional tensions increase, this Tehran exhibit displayed contemporary Arab art.
 
Cannes Film Review of Behnam Behzadi's ‘Inversion’.
 
Asghar Farhadi’s ‘The Salesman’ to screen at Cannes? Sold!
 
Kering, Cannes honor Iran’s Ida Panahandeh.
 
Iran's travel hotspots – in pictures.
 
Israeli singer Liraz Charhi looks to provide voice for silenced Iranian women.
 
Sports
 
Iranian cyclist Mizbani shines in Tour of Iran 2016.
 
Iranian martial artist promotes Supreme Leader Khamenei in U.S. Stadium.
 
Iran loses to Team USA in wrestling match on the streets of Times Square.
 
Science and medicine
 
Iran celebrates designation of Hamoun as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
 
Other
 
Stop the next H.R. 158!
 
Craigslist Ad: Need a Persian? Rent a Persian!
 
Feds used illegal child porn ruse to get evidence for Iranian export case.
Events
A special thanks to Bilal Ahmed for helping us with this week's newsletter!
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