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.”
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.”
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.